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Head rush: Common sense wins in NYC war on soda

New York City’s soda ban on cups larger than 16 ounces was set to take effect Tuesday. Until a judge put a stop to it.

New York Supreme Court Justice Milton Tingling struck down the ban saying it was, “arbitrary and capricious.”

Tingling pointed out the inconsistencies in the ban pushed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He wrote, “It applies to some but not all food establishments in the city. It excludes other beverages that have significantly higher concentrations of sugar sweeteners and/or calories.”

For example, convenience stores could sell large sodas, but restaurants and movie theaters could not. Tingling also wrote that because patrons could get refills on 16- ounce cups the ban wouldn’t be effective.

But the most important part of Tingling’s decision reeled in Bloomberg’s power. The Mayor’s Office said the City Board of Health has broad powers to “better the public health.” The New York Times explained:

That interpretation, the judge wrote, “would leave its authority to define, create, mandate and enforce limited only by its own imagination,” and “create an administrative Leviathan.”

Had this ban gone into effect, the ramifications would have been much larger than a 20-ounce soda. New York City’s government would have limited almost any product a business can and cannot sell at will as long it bettered the public health.

Could donuts and double cheeseburgers be next? What about sugary sports drinks or candy bars? Once power is taken away, it is hardly ever given back.

Perhaps the best course of action the city could take is refusing to pay the health care costs of individuals who refuse to take care of themselves.

That may never happen, but at least sometimes common sense still wins.