Judge Blocks NYC Large Soda Ban, Appeal Set for June, Starbucks Will Defy

March 14th, 2013

The war on large sodas has escalated. What began as Bloomberg’s one-man assault on sugary beverages over 16 ounces has now become a protracted two-way siege, as New York state Supreme Court Justice Milton Tingling halted Bloomberg’s forthcoming ban, citing its “arbitrary and capricious” nature.

New York City Mayor Bloomberg is set to appeal the decision in a June hearing. Meanwhile, Starbucks has indicated that it will not comply with the ban, presuming it survives the appellate process. Freedom won the first round in this struggle between consumer choice and bureaucratic nanny-ism. Let’s hash out the details after the jump.

Justice Tingling Stands for Freedom in Soda Ban Case

New York Supreme Court Justice Milton Tingling stood for consumer choice by halting Mayor Bloomberg’s ban on sodas over 16 ounces. His opinion was that the New York City Board of Health does not have sufficient authority to “limit or ban a legal item under the guise of ‘controlling chronic disease.’”

He also pointed out the fact that people could still buy large sugary drinks at quick stops and grocery stores, making the ban effectively meaningless. Inconveniencing sugary beverage drinkers will not reduce obesity. When someone decides to eat a triple cheeseburger with a mere 16 ounce drink, rather than a 20 ounce one, the caloric intake difference is virtually negligible. Plus, there’s nothing stopping someone from instead choosing to buy multiple 16 ounce beverages.

Starbucks Is Not on Board

Starbucks officials have indicated that the company will not change its menu to accommodate Bloomberg’s ban. This decision was issued prior to Justice Tingling’s reversal. The company has crafted a legal argument for the decision, alleging that its coffee drinks meet the minimum dairy requirement to avoid categorization as a sugary beverage.

With such a large chain planning to defy the ban no matter what local regulators might say, Bloomberg’s prohibition may rest on shaky ground if it manages to survive the appellate process. Starbucks is a beloved franchise to untold millions of consumers. It has deep enough pockets to defend itself in court.

Bloomberg had regulators ready to enforce the law as of last Tuesday. They were armed with 17 ounce measuring cups, specially designed to catch large soda traffickers. However, the city-wide beverage busts will have to wait for now. In June, we’ll find out if Nanny Bloomberg’s ban will go into effect.

Speaking of the Big Apple, our 3D animated dystopian film Silver Circle is set to debut at a New York City premiere event from March 22nd through March 28th at Cinema Village. Showings will be held each day at 1:00 PM, 3:00 PM, 7:10 PM, and 9:15 PM. After the 7:10 PM showing on opening night, Austrian economist Peter Schiff will be conducting a Q&A along with the Silver Circle team. Tickets are available at this link. There will be lots of freedom lovers at the premiere.

Find out where you can see Silver Circle by checking our theater and special screening schedule on our event page.

About the Author: Barry Donegan

Barry Donegan is a singer for the experimental mathcore band Look What I Did, a writer, a self-described "veteran lifer in the counterculture", a political activist/consultant, and a believer in the non-aggression principle.