New York high court rejects large soda ban

New York state’s highest court on Thursday refused to reinstate a ban on the sale of large-sized sodas.

In its 4-2 ruling, the court of appeals said New York City’s health department overstepped its authority when it barred the sale of sugary drinks larger down 16 ounces, a measure backed by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg as a way to fight obesity.

"The Board of Health engaged in law-making beyond its regulatory authority," the court’s majority said. "It is clear that the Board of Health wrote the Portion Cap Rule without benefit of legislative guidance."

The decision upheld a lower court ruling striking down the ban, likely finishing off the controversial public health initiative.

Restaurants, theaters and the beverage industry had challenged Bloomberg’s soda ban and cheered the court’s decision.

“We are pleased that the lower courts’ decisions were upheld,” said Christopher Gindlesperger, a spokesman for the American Beverage Association, which sued the city over the ban. “It would have created an uneven playing field for thousands of small businesses in the city and limited New Yorkers’ freedom of choice.”

He said his group was willing to work with the city to help find other ways to curb obesity.

The dissenting justices said the city was within its right to impose the ban as part of its public health authority.