New York City health regulators overstepped bounds with soda ban

New York state’s highest court—The Court of Appeals—has ruled that New York City’s Board of Heath overstepped its regulatory authority by imposing a 16-ounce limit on sugary beverages sold in restaurants, delis, movie theaters, stadiums and street carts.

In a 4-2 decision, the court ruled the appointed board tread on the policy-making turf of the elected City Council.

“By choosing among competing policy goals, without any legislative delegation or guidance, the board engaged in lawmaking,” the court wrote in a majority opinion. “… Its choices raise difficult, intricate and controversial issues of social policy.”

The Business Council of New York State has opposed the ban since it was first proposed by the former Bloomberg administration.

In the brief, The Business Council argued the ban is arbitrary, creates an unfair playing field among businesses and imposes new restrictions on businesses and consumers alike.

The American Beverage Association, which led the legal fight against the measure, welcomed Thursday’s ruling against a measure it said would have “limited New Yorkers’ freedom of choice.” Curbing obesity should start “with education — not laws and regulation,” spokesman Christopher Gindlesperger said.

The city hasn’t said whether it plans to try to appeal, but the case doesn’t raise federal issues that would make it a likely choice for the Supreme Court and it’s fate in the City Council is uncertain.

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