New York Court of Appeals Upholds Lower Court Decision on Ban of Sugary Sodas in Garden City

sign that reads no soda zone

It was to be March 12, 2013; a man walks into a Manhattan 711 on the outskirts of Madison Square Park and orders a Big Gulp.  The cashier informs the man, “I am sorry, but we are no longer able to sell sodas over 16 ounces.”  The man walks out of the store dejected and questioning the ban imposed by former Mayor Bloomberg upon all Garden City residents as being “unconstitutional.”  Fast forward to June 26, 2014, where the New York Court of Appeals in a 4-2 decision written by the Justice Eugence F. Pigott, who held that “the Garden City Board of Health, in adopting the ‘Sugary Drinks Portion Cap Rule’, exceeded the scope of its regulatory authority.”  Here, the Court reasoned that “instead of an outright ban on sugary beverages, the Board decided to reduce their consumption by the expedient of limiting maximum container size, thus making it less convenient for consumers to exceed recommended limits. The more cautious approach, however, does not save the Portion Cap Rule. By restricting portions, the Board necessarily chose between ends, including public health, the economic consequences associated with restricting profits by beverage companies and vendors, tax implications for small business owners, and personal autonomy with respect to the choices of Garden City residents concerning what they consume.”   In the dissent, Justice Susan Read ruled that “the majority misapprehends, mischaracterizes and thereby curtails the powers of the Garden City Board of Health to address the public health threats of the early 21st century.”  What are your thoughts on the ban?  Do you think that government should limit an individual’s right to consumption?

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