Appeals Court: NYC's Big-Soda Ban Unconstitutional

A midlevel appeals court ruled on Tuesday that the city's Board of Health overreached its legal authority when it voted last year to limit the sale of large, high-calorie soft drinks. 

Large soda bottles on display at a bodega in Chinatown (Allison Joyce/Getty Images)

New York City's attempt to limit the sale of large soft drinks is on hold after a midlevel appeals court ruled on Tuesday that the city's Board of Health exceeded its legal authority, the Associated Press reports. Mayor Michael Bloomberg pledged to appeal the decision in an effort to fight obesity.

In a unanimous opinion, a four-judge panel of the state Supreme Court Appellate Division said that while the board has the power to ban "inherently harmful" foodstuffs from being served to the public, sweetened beverages don't fall into that category. Soda consumption is not necessarily harmful when done in moderation, the court wrote, and therefore "cannot be classified as a health hazard per se."

The panel didn't address whether the size limit would have infringed on personal liberties, but said that in adopting it, the health board improperly assumed broad lawmaking powers given only to legislative bodies, like the City Council.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the driving force behind the regulation, promised a quick appeal.

"Today's decision is a temporary setback, and we plan to appeal this decision as we continue the fight against the obesity epidemic," he said in a statement.

Read more at the Associated Press.

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