Skip to main content

Large sugary drinks flow in NYC as officials appeal ruling

By Leigh Remizowski, CNN
updated 4:10 PM EDT, Tue March 12, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NYC businesses continue to sell large sodas
  • Mayor Bloomberg says appeal will prevail
  • Judge rules measure was laden with exceptions

New York (CNN) -- New York City restaurant owners were back to business as usual on Tuesday, selling pitchers of soda and other super-sized drinks that would have been banned without a judge's 11th-hour intervention.

A citywide ban on the sale of sugary drinks in containers holding more than 16 ounces was set to go into effect Tuesday before state Supreme Court Justice Milton Tingling blocked the city's restrictions on Monday, calling them "arbitrary and capricious."

"It's no harm, no foul for us," said Josh Lebowitz, owner of Brother Jimmy's BBQ in Manhattan. "We'll go back to our old way of doing business."

Piers: Sodas lead to 'drain on society'
Quinn: I hope I'm wrong
Politics of soda bans and calories
Anger over big, sugary soda ban in NYC

In preparation for the expected ban on large sugary drinks at restaurants, fast-food eateries, movie theaters and stadiums in New York City, Lebowitz purchased 1,000 16-ounce cups to replace the 24-ounce ones used to serve soda at his five restaurants.

But after Monday's ruling, Lebowitz says those 16-ounce cups will remain in their boxes.

"We'll hold onto them for the time being," he said. "We're not going to use them."

Tingling's ruling was in response to a lawsuit filed by a group of business associations -- including the National Association of Theatre Owners of New York State and the American Beverage Association, which hailed the decision as a "sigh of relief to New Yorkers and thousands of small businesses in New York City."

The city wasted no time in appealing Tingling's decision.

How New Yorkers feel about big soda ban

"We are moving forward immediately with our appeal," said Michael Cardozo, the city's corporation counsel. "We believe the judge was wrong in rejecting this important public health initiative. We also feel he took an unduly narrow view of the Board of Health's powers."

Mayor Michael Bloomberg touted the sugary drink ban as a step toward eradicating New York City's "obesity epidemic."

"We are confident that we will win [the appeal]," Bloomberg said at a press conference at Lucky's Cafe in Midtown Manhattan, where owner Laki Anagnostopoulos has decided to comply with the city's sugary drink restrictions despite the court's decision.

"It's not about money at the end of the day, it's about making a change," said Anagnostopoulos' son, Greg, adding that the restaurant has eliminated 24-ounce to-go cups and 20-ounce bottles of soda from its menu.

Other businesses were not as ready to comply with the restrictions in the wake of the court ruling.

"We have maintained our position from the beginning that any regulations to eliminate New Yorkers' rights to purchase beverages in sizes of their choice is not in the public's interest," Dunkin' Donuts said in a statement. "With the ban now declared invalid, customers in New York City will find all their favorite beverages in the sizes they want available at Dunkin' Donuts."

Iman Kimel, owner of Frames Bowling Lounge in Manhattan, had a so-called "plan B" for when he was no longer able to offer patrons pitchers of soda -- sell pitchers of juice instead. The high-end bowling alley's chef developed recipes for cranberry-apple and mint, carrot and citrus juices, among other blends.

Ethicist: Health bans and 'sin taxes' can easily backfire

Until the law dictates otherwise, though, Frames will continue to offer pitchers of soda -- which come with a standard birthday party package.

"As long as we can sell soda in larger quantities, we will," said Frames marketing manager Frayda Resnick.

Tingling wrote that his decision was based on the fact that the ban was "laden with exceptions."

In addition, the law would have exempted a variety of retailers, including 7-Eleven, seller of the iconic "Big Gulp" drinks, because it is regulated by the state, not the city.

"The effect would be a person is unable to buy a drink larger than 16 ounces at one establishment but may be able to buy it at another establishment that may be located right next door," Tingling wrote.

Bloomberg said that the city's legislation was aimed only at the businesses that the city has the right to regulate.

"We just think the judge was totally wrong," Bloomberg said, adding that the city can only enact legislation "where we have the right to do it."

CNN's Mary Snow and Melanie Hicken contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:04 PM EDT, Sun September 21, 2014
Branded an "extremist" by China's state-run media, Joshua Wong isn't even old enough to drive.
updated 2:55 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi surprised political pundits with his rapid rise to power. CNN meets the man behind the enigma.
updated 9:06 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
British journalist John Cantlie hadn't been seen in nearly two years. Now, he's the latest hostage to be paraded out by ISIS.
updated 6:49 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
British PM David Cameron has had the narrowest of political escapes.
The burial leader. The hospital gatekeeper. The disease detective. All telling powerful, stories from West Africa.
updated 7:03 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Alibaba's IPO is unlike anything investors have ever seen and could threaten other online retailers. Maggie Lake reports.
updated 9:30 PM EDT, Sun September 21, 2014
Indian PM Narendra Modi has said al Qaeda will fail if it seeks to spread its terror network into his country.
updated 8:01 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Put yourself in the shoes (and sixth-century black robes) of ISIS' Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the mysterious boss of the terror group.
updated 10:44 AM EDT, Sat September 20, 2014
 Tennis Player Li Na attends the WTA Pre-Wimbledon Party as guests enjoy Ciroc Vodka presented by Dubai Duty Free at Kensington Roof Gardens on June 19, 2014 in London,
Asia's first grand slam singles champion Li Na has called time on her 15-year tennis career.
updated 10:09 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Even death couldn't part two skeletons excavated from a lost chapel in an English county, found with their fingers entwined.
updated 6:07 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT