Although there is little dispute that the obesity crisis in America is an increasingly concerning issue that affects more than 60% of adults, freedom of choice has prevailed yet again, and the NYC soda ban will continue to be an idea of the past, reported USA Today.
Two years ago, Mayor Michael Bloomberg instated the so-called soda ban, which capped selling these sugary beverages at 16 ounces. This affected all restaurants, movie theaters, stadiums, convenience stores and street cart vendors selling soft drinks in the city. At the end of last month, in a 20-page opinion, Judge Eugene F. Pigott Jr. of the New York State Court of Appeals wrote that the city’s Board of Health had “exceeded the scope of its regulatory authority” in enacting the “Sugary Drinks Portion Cap Rule,” the New York Times reported.
Even though many city attorneys advocated for the drink portion cap, arguing that sodas are a large source of unnecessary added sugar in the American diet, several judges on the Court of Appeals thought this would open doors to endless food bans and limitations: what about Starbucks Frappuccinos, for example, which are loaded with more calories than the average cheeseburger?!
Interestingly, according to the Times, Judge Susan P. Read dissented by presenting evidence of past Board of Health initiatives like the ban of trans fats in restaurants and lead paint in homes. But, in the end, Judge Pigott achieved the majority opinion in explaining that those earlier policies were more directly linked to the health of the public and represented “minimal interference with the personal autonomy” of New Yorkers.
The soda ban dispute really boils down to the age-old question of freedom of choice versus government regulation. When it comes to matters of health, it seems like a soda limitation does have everyone’s best interests in mind (less soda leads to less sugar leads to less weight), but what we choose to put in our bodies is still a personal choice. Even more, the soft drink industry has fiercely fought against many other attempts at regulations, in fear of their products being represented as a direct threat to public health.
Although Mayor de Blasio and several of his supporters are upset about the ruling, it’s safe to say the soda ban has fizzled for now.