The New York City Board of Health was not overstepping its authority with the soda ban overturned by a New York Supreme Court judge today, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a news conference.
The ban on sugary drinks over 16 ounces was supposed to go into effect on Tuesday, but New York Supreme Court Judge Milton Tingling said in today’s decision the law is ”fraught with arbitrary and capricious consequences.”
Tingling added that the elected City Council, not the mayor-appointed Board of Health, has the authority to make such a law.
But Bloomberg framed the issue as a moral obligation.
“I’m trying to do what’s right,” he said. “I’m trying to defend my children, and you, and do what’s right.”
His responsibility to New Yorkers includes protecting their health, he insisted.
“This includes advising them when science says something they’re doing may be harmful to them or to their families,” he said.
Bloomberg also fired back against charges the law would limit New Yorkers’ ability to make their own choices, saying it simply requires them to think about whether they “really want” more than 16 ounces of a sugary drink. Sugary soda has been linked to obesity, which kills thousands of Americans every year, he added.
“It’s not enough to talk and not enough to hope,” he said. “We have a responsibility as human beings to do something.”
The mayor suggested the law has taken flak because it’s new and it upsets special interest, not because it oversteps the government’s authority.
“Being the first to do something is never easy,” he said. “Special interests will sue. That’s America.”
The New York City government will appeal the judge’s decision and expects to see the law go into effect, Bloomberg said.
“We were very confident this morning,” he said. “We think the judge was totally in error and we’re confident we will win on appeal.”
Meanwhile, he hopes restaurants will voluntarily limit the size of sugary beverages until the law is enforced.
“Common sense says if you care, you might want to stop doing that,” he said. “We’re taking about lives, not profits.”