NYC soda ban falls flat

A judge says inconsistent enforcement for coffee and other beverages led to the law's demise.

By Jason Notte Mar 11, 2013 4:14PM
Drink up, soda-guzzling New Yorkers. The city's sugary drink ban is dead.

New York Supreme Court Judge Milton Tingling ruled as such on Monday, The Wall Street Journal reported. Tingling said that the law was doomed by inconsistencies that capped servings of Coca-Cola (KO), Pepsi (PEP) and other sweetened beverages at 16 ounces but let lattes flow unabated. The ruling came just one day before the law was slated to go into effect.

The regulations are "fraught with arbitrary and capricious consequences," the judge wrote. "The simple reading of the rule leads to the earlier acknowledged uneven enforcement even within a particular city block, much less the city as a whole. . . the loopholes in this rule effectively defeat the state purpose of the rule."

As The New York Times reported last week, Bloomberg's ban on oversized sweet drinks like jumbo colas would have extended to large and extra-large coffee and medium-to-large iced beverages. This is where the law got a bit murky, as customers could add their own sugar to huge cups of coffee, while sweet stuff like hot chocolate gets capped at medium sizes. Lattes containing 50% or more milk were immune to the policy changes entirely.Credit: © TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images
Caption: A man gets a Double Gulp drink at a 7-11 on the Upper East Side of New York City March 11, 2013. Today was supposed to be the last day New Yorkers were able to purchase super-sized sugary drinks at restaurants, movie theaters, sports venues and street carts in New York City, but New York Supreme Court Judge Milton Tingling ruled Monday that the city may not enforce the new regulation.

Starbucks (SBUX), however, wasn't playing along and called out Bloomberg's ban as vague at best. The company told Business Insider that it didn't plan to remove large versions of sweetened drinks like its iced-tea lemonade until it got some clarification on what drinks fall within the ban. The law would have limited non-coffee sugary drinks sold at restaurants, movie theaters, street carts, and elsewhere to 16 ounces.

The Daily News reported that Bloomberg had planned to unleash city health inspectors with 17-ounce cups to keep everybody honest. Restaurants that violated the ban would have lost points on their sanitation score, which were the "capricious consequences" the judge was referring to when he struck down the ruling. The first cracks in Bloomberg's facade showed Sunday, when the mayor accused Starbucks of playing coy when asked about the subject on CBS' “Face The Nation” on Sunday.

“Starbucks knows how to market things, knows how to package things,” Bloomberg said. “They can change instantly when it’s in their interest to do so.”

Starbucks competitor Dunkin' Donuts (DNKN), which is notorious for adding a front-end loader's worth of sugar to its coffee upon request, planned to play the good little East Coast chain and make its harried rush-hour customers line up for sugar packets after they received their coffee. Seattle's Starbucks had no time for Northeast neuroses, but neither did the legal system, apparently.

More on moneyNOW

Mar 11, 2013 4:39PM
I don't care if they can sell kiddie size swimming pools full of soda........ no one is holding a gun to your head and making you buy one and suck it up in 15 minutes. Remember that thing called personal responsibility?
Mar 11, 2013 7:10PM
score one forcommonsenseand freedom!!
Mar 11, 2013 5:28PM
From what I've read, nothing in the law said you couldn't buy multiple, smaller cups of whatever you want. Like two smaller cups purchased "for me and my friend" and then poured into one large thermos or even an emptied 2-liter bottle (hey, it IS recyclable, after all). This was an ill-advised, stupid and unenforceable attempt at making "law".
Mar 11, 2013 6:05PM
I can't decide whether the good mayor is another control freak who has managed to land an important public office or just another egomaniac needing media attention, like Donald Trump and Jerry Jones, but it's another example of stupidity coming from another elected official.
Mar 11, 2013 7:10PM
I'm going to celebrate by getting me a HUGE, sugar loaded soft drink and guzzle it smartly!
Mar 11, 2013 8:49PM
Common Sense - 1
Bloomberg - 0

Glad to hear the court used some sense and overturned the ban.  Silly waste of everyone's time and money!

Mar 11, 2013 11:52PM
I am thankful not to be living in NY.   I do not drink soft drinks but nice to have the freedom to buy a BIG GulP if we want to.  Seems like the leadership of New York are control freaks.
Mar 11, 2013 8:29PM
Well, the liberal idiot Bloom just lost his bloomers to a conservative thinking judge +++++++ WHOOPIE!
Mar 12, 2013 12:04AM



We buy soda or as we call it pop, by the CASES or 12 packs.


Guess we can buy beer the same way....And do.

Booze and wine by the 5th's, qts or Liters......WTF is the matter with that man, well actually an idiot.

Mar 11, 2013 11:34PM
This score just in:  Good Guys 1  Nanny Government  0.
Mar 12, 2013 12:07AM

Only ones that would make out here are Corporations...


They would downsize and charge the same..


Or eliminate and charge a little more for next size down...You gotta buy two..


It all sounded like an evil plan to me.

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