NEW YORK—The city intends to appeal a judge’s ruling that struck down the large sugary drink ban on Monday, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg hopes businesses will voluntarily comply with the regulations while the ruling is being appealed.
“Being the first to do something is never easy. We knew we would face lawsuits. Any time you adopt a groundbreaking policy, special interest will sue. That’s America,” Bloomberg said from City Hall on Monday. “We believe the judge’s decision was clearly an error and we will prevail on appeal.”
State Supreme Court Judge Milton Tingling ruled the Board of Health had no legal authority to impose such a rule, which would have banned establishments that get letter grades from the city to serve drinks larger than 16 ounces that contain more than 50 calories.
Michael Cardozo, New York City’s Corporation Counsel, said, “We think he [the judge] is wrong when we looked at the law. We believe he interpreted the precedents completely wrong.”
Despite intense criticism over the rule, which was to take effect on Tuesday, Mayor Bloomberg spoke passionately about his belief that the measure would save lives.
“If we are serious about fighting obesity, we have to be honest about what causes it and we have to have the courage to tackle it head on,” he said. “It is not enough to talk and it is not enough to hope. We have a responsibility as human beings to do something.”
Appeals can often drag on for years, however, and Bloomberg will only be in office until the end of this year. Cardozo said because the Board of Health is the entity in charge of the rule, it could continue with the next administration. Bloomberg said he hoped the next mayor would enact the policy.
When asked about the reported effects the ruling would have on businesses, Bloomberg said, “I don’t think it would hurt your bottom line, but even if it did, we are talking about lives vs profits and at the minimum a change in profits. No one can make a case that serving 16 ounces cups vs 32 ounce cups would cost anybody any appreciable amount of money.”
Dinesh Venkata, 36, a manager at a Subway restaurant on the Upper East Side, estimates he will lose at least $500 a week if he has to charge less for the smaller drink sizes.
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