De Blasio ‘disappointed’ in soda ban ruling

Bill de Blasio. (Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)
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Dan Goldberg

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Mayor Bill de Blasio said he was disappointed in a New York appellate court ruling that found the city's Board of Health overreached when it tried to impose portion control on sugary drinks, but he stopped short of saying he would push for similar legislation in the City Council.

“We are extremely disappointed by today’s Court decision that prevents the city from implementing a sugary drink portion cap policy,” de Blasio said in a press release. “The negative effects of sugary drink over-consumption on New Yorkers’ health, particularly among low-income communities, are irrefutable.”

The court, did not address the merits of soda or its negative effects. Instead, its ruling said any portion-control policy should come from the City Council.

During the mayoral campaign, then-Public Advocate Bill de Blasio said the ban was critical for the city to fight the obesity epidemic and said he wanted the policy to go forward.

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De Blasio said then that he would consider pushing legislation in the City Council if the court ruled against the city, according to the Daily News, but on Thursday he was less definitive.

“While we are still examining the Court’s decision, it is our responsibility to address the causes of this epidemic, and the City is actively reviewing all of its options to protect the health and well-being of our communities,” de Blasio said.

The policy might be tough to revive.

De Blasio does not have the support of his usual progressive allies, and opinion polls show the rule was deeply unpopular.

Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said she was “glad for the [court's] decision.”

“I’ve been an opponent of what had been proposed by the Bloomberg administration,” she said. “I have been disappointed that de Blasio wanted to continue that route.”

She said the rule proposed by the health department would have been too hard to implement and, while the desire to address obesity was sound, the law would have been “onerous.”

“I know that a lot of my colleagues feel the same because they’ve signed on to some of the actions being taken at the court level,” Viverito said.

Public Advocate Letitia James, another progressive ally of de Blasio's, also praised the court's decision, saying that it was “a short-sighted endeavor that failed to address the real public health needs of New York City.”

“I urge the mayor to help bring New York City into compliance with state law and make physical education available to every single student and guarantee that children of all ages have access to nutritious meals at school,” James said in a press release.