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Judge voids New York soda ban, calling it 'arbitrary and capricious'

The judge said New York's soda ban, which was set to take effect Tuesday, required city council approval and was arbitrary because some retailers, such as drugstores, were not affected by the ban.

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“We plan to appeal the decision as soon as possible, and we are confident the Board of Health’s decision will ultimately be upheld,” Michael Cardozo, New York City's corporation counsel, said in a statement. "This measure is part of the City’s multi-pronged effort to combat the growing obesity epidemic, which takes the lives of more than 5,000 New Yorkers every year, and we believe the Board of Health has the legal authority – and responsibility – to tackle its leading causes.”

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Bloomberg promoted the soda ban as a means to fight New York’s overweight and obesity rate, which currently stands at 58 percent, as well as rein in the city’s health-care costs. According to the New York City Department of Health, the city spends an estimated $4.7 billion each year on medical care for overweight and obese people. A New York City Community Health Survey released Monday linked consumption of sugary beverages to high rates of obesity.

“This new data is the latest evidence that sugary drinks are helping to drive the obesity epidemic, which falls hardest on low-income communities,” Bloomberg said in a statement.

The soda ban was one of a number of controversial public-health initiatives the mayor has pushed in recent years, including efforts to curb smoking and sodium consumption. Last year, the Board of Health made it illegal to smoke in the city’s parks and on its public beaches and pedestrian plazas like Times Square.

Not surprisingly, the soda ban had received plenty of pushback. A Quinnipiac University poll released last week found 51 percent of people opposed it, while 46 percent approved. In recent weeks, more than 20,000 New Yorkers joined New Yorkers for Beverage Choices, a group that has fought the proposed drink restrictions with media campaigns and an online petition. The group was not immediately available to comment.

Most of the city’s 24,000 restaurants weren’t happy about the ban, either.

Some restaurants had been preparing by disposing large cups and ordering smaller glasses, adjusting pricing on smaller-sized drinks, changing meal-and-drink deals, and reprinting menus – all at their own expense. One Subway restaurant on the Upper East Side estimated the ban would have cost it $500 per week in lost beverage sales.

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