- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 26, 2014

New York’s highest court put the final stamp of disapproval Thursday on former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s attempt to ban big soda sales within city boundaries — striking a loss for nanny state governance.

A ban on 16-ounce and larger soda sales was one of Mr. Bloomberg’s signature policies — a reform he described as necessary in the fight against obesity. The current administration under Mayor Bill de Blasio supported the ban, also.

But the state’s highest court said the ban, as carried out by the city’s Board of Health via a new rule, was not lawful because it extended past the rightful role of that agency into the arena of policy-making, The Associated Press reported.

“The Board of Health engaged in law-making beyond its regulatory authority,” the court opinion read, AP reported. “It is clear that the Board of Health wrote the Portion Cap Rule without benefit of legislative guidance.”

A lower court had already blocked the ban from going into effect, but city officials had held out hope that the higher court would find in their favor.

Attorneys for the city had argued earlier this month that sugary drinks contribute by and large the most sugar to average Americans’ diets and that the restrictions weren’t outright bans because smaller serving sizes could still be sold, AP said. But the judges found that argument ineffective.

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Judge Eugene Piggott Jr., for instance, asked if next on the city’s list would be large-size burgers — a question he raised to make the point of the regulatory floodgate that could be opened with the soda ban, AP reported.

In response to the ruling, Mary Bassett with the City Health Commission said Mr. de Blasio would continue to seek ways “to limit the pernicious effects of aggressive and predatory marketing of sugary drinks and unhealthy foods. Today’s ruling does not change the fact that sugary drink consumption is a key driver of the obesity epidemic and we will continue to look for ways to stem the twin epidemics of obesity and type 2 diabetes,” AP reported.

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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