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National Restaurant Association - Restaurants win! Court strikes final blow against NYC beverage ban

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Restaurants win! Court strikes final blow against NYC beverage ban

In a major victory for restaurants and consumers choice, the New York Court of Appeals struck the final blow against New York City’s efforts to ban the sale of sugar-sweetened drinks larger than 16 ounces.

The court announced this morning that it would uphold lower court rulings that the ban was arbitrary and held restaurateurs to a different standard than their competitors, including grocery and convenience stores, by permitting those establishments to continue selling large-sized beverages. 

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed the ban in 2012, claiming that it would help combat obesity. The National Restaurant Association, American Beverage Association and other business groups fought back and took the city to court, arguing the ban unfairly targeted certain establishments like restaurants, delis, movie theaters and sports concessions stands while exempting grocery and convenience stores. The law also would have created significant new costs for restaurateurs in the form of new glassware, menus and lost sales.

“This is an important victory for the thousands of restaurant operators and industry suppliers serving New York City who would have experienced financial hardships had the ban been enacted,” said National Restaurant Association President and CEO Dawn Sweeney, “We are pleased that this final ruling recognized that the Board of Health exceeded its authority when it initially passed the ban. As we have said, we look forward to working with public health officials to engage in a constructive dialogue that will have a positive and sustained impact on the people of New York City.”

The attempted ban was wildly unpopular among consumers. A May 2014 Rasmussen Reports poll found that 63 percent of Americans oppose a ban on the sale of soft drinks larger than 16 ounces and felt the ban would have no impact on public health. Just 19 percent said they favored such a law.

While the ban has been widely portrayed as targeting the sale of soda, it also would have banned the sales of larger sizes of sweetened iced tea, some smoothies, coffee drinks and lemonade. The ruling was later unanimously upheld by a four-judge panel of the New York State Supreme Court’s Appellate Division.

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

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