Appeals Court Seems Skeptical of Bloomberg's Big Beverage Ban

Office of the MayorOffice of the MayorToday a lawyer seeking reinstatement of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's big beverage ban faced a barrage of skeptical questions from a state appeals court panel. The widely ridiculed rule, which never took effect, would have imposed a 16-ounce limit on servings of certain sugar-sweetened drinks sold by restaurants, food carts, and concession stands. Three months ago a state judge overturned that restriction, concluding that it violated a state law barring "arbitrary and capricious" regulations and exceeded the legal authority of the Bloomberg-appointed New York Board of Health. Newsday reports that the appeals court judges hit both of those points today:

The judges repeatedly challenged city attorney Fay Ng to defend the rule's scientific and legal underpinnings.

Justice David Friedman said the city appeared to be asking for unprecedented authority to regulate all sorts of portion sizes, including "the number of doughnuts a person could eat, the number of scoops of ice cream" and number of servings of fried chicken.

Several times, Justice Dianne Renwick questioned whether the 16-ounce size limit was scientifically arbitrary, given that it is based on liquid volume rather than a measure of how much sugar is actually in a beverage. The limit, she noted, meant that some drinks with high amounts of sugar would be allowed, while others with less sweetener would be banned.

The New York Post has more:

The panel was befuddled by the distinctions.

"Why the limits on some [drinks] and not others," asked Justice Diane Renwick....

"How about pomegranate juice and blueberry juice?" Justice Rosalyn Richter asked.

"What about sugar-infused energy drinks?" she wondered.

Baylen Linnekin declared the soft drink regulations good as dead in March. I analyzed Bloomberg's defeat in the New York Daily News.

Video bonus: Bloomberg's soda serving ceiling was the springboard for "An Epidemic of Meddling," a talk I gave at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in April. You can watch that here, and here is a counterpoint from Peter Ubel, defending a government role in reducing obesity.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • A Serious Man||

    Anything that'll get Mikey to throw another hissy fit on camera or in print.

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    If I want 18 ounces of sodee-pop in one sitting, I should be able to.
    I don't, but I should be able to.

  • PapayaSF||

    Nobody ever listens to me. If you want to tackle obesity, these indirect measures won't work. Simply equip Post Offices with scales, require everyone to go within a week of their birthday, and tax people according to their BMI.

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

  • RBS||

    That's a hell of a pit stain.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    or you can go be fat somewhere else

    A Nikon D40 versus Bear Spray. I wonder who won?

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Or we can not give a shit about people's weight.

    Crazy, I know, but I'm just throwing it out there.

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    BUT THE CHILDRENZ

  • Live Free or Diet||

    Or we can not give a shit about people's weight.

    As long as people think the weight causes the other problems instead of it simply being the most obvious symptom, that'll never happen.
    ... Why don't people wonder why tall people (who naturally weigh more) don't have the same weight-related problems as obese people?

  • ThatSkepticGuy||

    "Why don't people wonder why tall people (who naturally weigh more) don't have the same weight-related problems as obese people?"

    Don't know any really tall people, huh?

  • Live Free or Diet||

    Don't know any really tall people, huh?

    My cousins look like a basketball team. But the increased weight from that does not cause the same problems as being shorter but the same weight.

  • Mickey Rat||

    But society owns...er, pays for our healthcare. How can it not care about the weight of its chattel...,er, citizens?

  • Live Free or Diet||

    tax people according to their BMI.

    Sarcasm, I know, but...
    This assumes these people have control of their weight and choose to be fat. So long as they think it's about calories instead of hormones, they don't stand a snowball's chance.

  • ||

    This assumes these people have control of their weight and choose to be fat

    It also assumes that theft is ok when it is performed by an elected group.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    Good point.
    Great point.
    Better than mine.

  • All-Seeing Monocle||

    What if you just want to control people?

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Because a made up statistic based on the some quack Belgian statistician's polling of his friends, neighbors and relatives is just ideal to penalize people based on.

    The fact is that people with the same BMI can have wildly different levels of obesity.

  • Boisfeuras||

    Justice David Friedman said the city appeared to be asking for unprecedented authority...

    He should throw the Machinery of Freedom at them.

  • WomSom||

    There is a dude that clearly knows what time it is. Wow.

    www.AnonStuff.tk

  • Adam.||

    Is there a calendar for where reason editors have talks? I live in madison and had no idea about the talk at Wisconsin

  • maureen_aba||

    Science has repeatedly shown us that when it comes to obesity, all calories count, regardless of where those calories come from. This is why blaming and banning one specific product is ineffective and counterproductive. The real solution to obesity lies in education, not laws and regulations. What we eat, drink, and feed our families does not require government control, oversight, or influence.

    -Maureen Beach, American Beverage Association

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