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State Appeals Court Rules That City's Proposed Sugary Drink Ban Is Illegal

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TWC News: State Appeals Court Rules That City's Proposed Sugary Drink Ban Is Illegal
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It looks like the fight over Mayor Michael Bloomberg's soda ban is going to the state's highest court, as the mayor says he is planning to appeal Tuesday's appeals court decision that strikes down the city's restrictions on large sugary drinks. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg says he is ready to go another round in court to ensure large sugary drinks are banned from restaurants, movie theaters and sports stadiums across the five boroughs.

A four-judge panel unanimously decided against the city's sugary drink restrictions Tuesday, writing that the Board of Health did not have the authority to enact the rules.

Dr. Thomas Farley, the city's health commissioner, disagrees.

"The Board of Health has regulated restaurants for centuries," Farley said. "The Board of Health has authority to rule on public health epidemics, and we do have an epidemic of obesity and diabetes."

City officials say obesity kills more than 5,000 New Yorkers each year. They say sugary drinks like soda are driving the obesity epidemic.

The beverage industry has been fighting the plan to prohibit the sale of sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces. It won the first round of the court fight back in March, the day before the new rules were set to take effect.

"We think today's ruling is a great victory for consumer choice and for New Yorkers who don't want government in their grocery carts or in their kitchens telling them what to do," said Susan Neely of the American Beverage Association.

The mayor's soda restrictions have been highly controversial. In Long Island City, across the street from the Department of Health headquarters, NY1 was hard-pressed to find any New Yorkers who wanted to see the mayor's rules enacted.

"You don't have a right to tell people what they can drink or eat. If that's the case, you might as well go in their household and tell them what to do," said one resident. "I don't drink soda, per se, but this is what this country is about, freedom to do whatever you want to do as long as it's the right way."

"He should put his interest on more important things, like raising the minimum wage," said another.

If the city does proceed with its appeal, it is unclear whether the state's highest court will rule on the case by the end of the year. The timing could prove to be critical, as on January 1, a new mayor will be sworn in, a mayor who may not support the soda restrictions.

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