[Updated] Bloomberg vows to appeal ruling to halt soda ban

[Updated] Bloomberg vows to appeal ruling to halt soda ban
AP Photo/Richard Drew
By Karen Frantz

Mayor Michael Bloomberg vowed to appeal a ruling Monday by a State Supreme Court judge that struck down the so-called soda ban Monday on the grounds that it was “arbitrary and capricious.”

The ruling blocks the city from enforcing the rule, just one day before it was expected to go into effect.

Justice Milton Tingling Jr., of the State Supreme Court in Manhattan, wrote in his opinion that the rule applies unevenly to city venues, bars sale of some large sugary drinks but not others and the many loopholes built into the rule, such as no limitations on refills, defeat its purpose.

“It is arbitrary and capricious because it applies to some but not all food establishments in the city,” he wrote.

He also wrote that the rule would “eviscerate” the separation of powers doctrine, creating an “administrative Leviathan.”

“Such an evisceration has the potential to be more troubling than sugar- sweetened beverages,” he wrote.

Bloomberg, who has championed the ban, told a news conference Monday evening he planned to appeal the judge’s decision and he was confident the soda rule, which is the first of its kind, would ultimately be upheld.

“Being the first to do something is never easy,” he said.

He also argued the rule would help save lives because sugary drink consumption is linked to obesity, a risk factor for disease and premature death.

“Obesity kills, there’s just no question about it,” he said.

The soda rule would limit the size of sugary drinks to 16 ounces in any city establishment needing a city Department of Health grade, including restaurants, movie theaters and sports arenas, but not other venues such as 7-Elevens. It would also not apply to alcoholic drinks, fruit juice or milk-based beverages.

Earlier in the day, meanwhile, a Queens legislator and members of Bayside’s business community spoke out against the rule and said the city Department of Health had not done enough to explain to business owners how to comply with the new limits.

City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone), along with Bayside Village BID’s executive director, Lyle Sclair, and some small business owners, gathered for a news conference outside Cascarino’s pizza parlor, on 39-17 Bell Blvd.

Halloran said businesses like Cascarino’s would take a hit under the soda rule. He also contended that some owners did not understand what was or was not permissible under the regulations.

He called on the DOH to start going door to door to explain the ins and outs of the soda rule to business owners.

“They have no problem sending inspectors door-to-door to harass my merchants,” he said. “So if they’re going to do this ban, the least they can do is go door- to-door informing the merchants about what the new standards are.”

Sclair agreed the city should do more to inform business owners, saying that immigrant merchants in particular may be misinformed because some are scared to ask the city for help deciphering the rules.

“They don’t even know if it applies to them or not,” he said.

Reach reporter Karen Frantz by e-mail at kfrantz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.