Bloomberg Appealing Soda Ban Block

Published in CSP Daily News

Health groups file friend of the court briefs for June hearing

Michael Bloomberg

NEW YORK -- Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Thursday that two amicus (friend of the court) legal briefs have been filed to support New York City's appeal of the lower court denial of what he called the " sugary drink portion cap rule."

The National Alliance for Hispanic Health and National Association of Local Boards of Healthcare the lead signatories of the two briefs.

The amicus brief supports the city's Board of Health regulation limiting sugary beverage portions to containers no more than 16 ounces at foodservice establishments (convenience stores are exempt and are under state jurisdiction) in New York City. The board adopted the regulation in September as part of an effort to curb obesity rates. Convenience stores are exempt and are under state jurisdiction.

It was to go into effect on March 12, but it was blocked by New York Supreme Court Judge Milton Tingling as being "fraught with arbitrary and capricious consequences."

"The organizations and individuals who have joined these amicus briefs understand the toll that obesity is taking on communities here in New York City and across the nation. Sugary drinks are a leading contributor to the obesity epidemic that is hitting low-income communities especially hard, and we cannot afford to pretend otherwise. Our plan to limit the portion size of sugary drinks is a sensible step that has won increasing levels of support from the public health community, and these two amicus briefs will help us make our case to the court," said Bloomberg.

"The compelling amicus briefs being submitted today further confirm the significant support this important health initiative has among the medical community as well as the community at large," said corporation counsel Michael A. Cardozo of the New York City Law Department. "We believe that the appellate court will find that the Board of Health's authority to adopt initiatives such as the portion cap rule for the protection of the health of New Yorkers is supported by decades of case law and explicit text in the New York City Charter. It will allow consumers to make conscious and informed choices about large sugary drinks."

The first amicus brief focuses on scientific evidence showing a strong correlation between sugary drink consumption and obesity and chronic diseases, with a focus on the disproportionate impact to underserved communities.

The following groups will file the brief: National Alliance for Hispanic Health (lead signatory), Comunilife, Montefiore Medical Center, Harlem Health Promotion Center, National Congress of Black Women, Inc., New York Chapter, National Association of Hispanic Nurses, Association of Black Cardiologists, The California Endowment, New York Chapter 2, American Academy of Pediatrics, Prevention Institute, Shape Up America!, United Puerto Rican Organization of Sunset Park (UPROSE), Walter Willett, MD, MPH, DrPH, Maya Rockeymoore, PhD, Children's Aid Society, and the Mount Sinai Medical Center.

The second amicus brief demonstrates the legality and appropriateness of incremental approaches to public health that local boards of health have made. The second brief will be filed by the National Association of Local Boards of Health (lead signatory), ChangeLab Solutions, Rudd Center, Public Health Association of New York City, Public Health Law Center, Health Officers Association of California, National Association of County and City Health Officials, American Public Health Association, the University of Michigan School of Public Health Professor Peter Jacobson, Georgetown Law Professor Larry Gostin, American University Washington College of Law, Northeastern University School of Law Professor Wendy Parmet, Wayne State University Law School Professor Lance Gable and New England Law School Professor Micah Berman..

The city's application to hear the appeal on an expedited briefing schedule was granted and arguments will be heard by the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division in June.