Retail Groups Celebrate Win over NYC Beverage Ban

Published in CSP Daily News

… Even as Bloomberg vows fight is not over

By  Steve Holtz, Online News Director & Beverage Editor

NEW YORK -- Even as New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg promises to challenge a last-minute court ruling that prevented his large-soda ban from going into effect this week, retail groups are lauding the ruling for setting a legal precedent on such regulation.

“Our family of 7-Eleven franchisees applauds that common-sense approach which recognizes that individuals--not governments--should be free to make their own informed decisions about their dietary intake of foods and beverages,” said Bruce Maples, chairman of the National Coalition of Associations of 7-Eleven Franchisees. “That is also why 7-Eleven continues to provide our guests with a wide variety of healthy options to choose from. The National Coalition will continue to follow this issue closely, supporting the associations and organizations that continue to raise their voices in support of market-driven solutions to America's challenges.”

Many of those organizations spoke out this week to hail the court ruling as a victory for individual rights and common sense.

On Monday, New York State Supreme Court Justice Milton Tingling ruled against the large-fountain-drink ban, which would have outlawed sugary drinks in cups larger than 16 ounces in restaurants, bars and theaters. Although the ban did not include convenience stores, which are overseen by the state rather than municipalities in New York, Maples recognized the “slippery slope of unnecessary, unwanted and unwarranted government intervention in the choices people make about their intake of foods and beverages.”

And Tingling seemed to agree, calling the ban “arbitrary and capricious.”

The American Beverage Association (ABA), one of the most vocal opponents of the ban that worked as a voice for the major beverage manufacturers, said it is pleased the issue is "behind us.”

“We look forward to collaborating with city leaders on solutions that will have a meaningful and lasting impact on the people of New York City," it stated, noting it prefers to look at other solutions to curb obesity, a key goal of Bloomberg’s initiative.

And other associations were equally opinionated.

"This is a great victory, particularly for thousands of restaurant operators and industry suppliers serving New York City who would have experienced financial hardships had the ban been enacted," said Dawn Sweeney, president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association. "We are extremely pleased that the judge recognized that the Board of Health exceeded its authority when it initially passed the ban."

"We applaud the court's decision to prevent Mayor Bloomberg's unnecessary and ineffective proposal from being enacted and enforced,” stated International Franchise Association senior vice president of Government Relations & Public Policy Judith Thorman. “The proposal was an example of government overreach that unfairly targeted restaurant franchises and would have done little to combat obesity, while placing excessive and arbitrary costs on franchisees throughout New York City.”

Still, Bloomberg promises this fight is not yet over.

“When we began this process, we knew we would face lawsuits. Anytime you adopt a groundbreaking policy, special interests will sue,” he said after the court ruling. “But we strongly believe that, in the end, the courts will recognize the Board of Health's authority to regulate the sale of beverages that have virtually no nutritional value, and which--consumed in large quantities--are leading to disease and death for thousands of people every year. … We're confident that today's decision will ultimately be reversed, too."

A CSP Daily News poll, however, shows only 17% of respondents believe the court ruling will be overturned. Stay tuned.

By Steve Holtz, Online News Director & Beverage Editor
View More Articles By Steve Holtz