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Issue Date: Vol. 53, No. 2, February 2013, Posted On: 1/24/2013

Beverage Sellers Ask Judge To Strike Down NY Soda Ban; Minority Groups Join Opposition

Emily Jed
TAGS: New York City big soda ban, sugary drink ban, Bloomberg soda ban, super-size soda ban challenge, New York City Board of Health, American Beverage Association, National Restaurant Association, minority-owned delis

NEW YORK CITY -- Soda makers, restaurateurs and other businesses asked a judge to strike down New York City's ban on the sale of super-size soda at a hearing on Jan. 23, calling the proposed rule an unfair burden on small businesses.

The New York City Board of Health approved in September Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposal to limit the size of sugary soft drinks sold in restaurants, movie theaters and stadiums to 16 fl.oz. The American Beverage Association, National Restaurant Association and other industry groups filed a petition a month later in state court to block the law's enforcement.

The rule is set to take effect March 12. Violations could bring $200 fines, which the city said it would not start imposing until June. | SEE STORY

Two minority advocacy groups have also joined the lawsuit. The New York chapter of the NAACP and the Hispanic Federation, a network of 100 northeastern groups, say minority-owned delis and corner stores will end up at a disadvantage compared to grocery chains, and that the ban would unfairly affect "freedom of choice in low-income communities.

Attorney James Brandt of Latham & Watkins LLP, representing the industry groups, told Justice Milton Tingling at the hearing in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan that the ban is "grossly unfair" to small businesses like pizzerias and street cart vendors, because larger chain retailers, like convenience and drug stores can still sell larger-size sodas.

The groups have also argued that the first-of-its-kind restriction should have gone before the elected City Council instead of being approved by the Bloomberg-appointed health board.

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