Big Apple in the midst of a soda war

Big Apple in the midst of a soda war

The Big Apple is in the midst of a soda war with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg determined to fight back a State Supreme Court decision overturning his large soda ban.

Justice Milton Tingling in Manhattan Monday declared the ban that would have slapped a $200 fine for serving sugary drinks in containers larger than 16 ounces beginning in June, as invalid calling it "arbitrary and capricious." Hours later Bloomberg appeared on "Late Show with David Letterman" saying he will file an appeal.

"In the meantime, this year, 70,000 Americans will die from obesity -- 5,000 here in New York. We've got to do something about it," he said claiming "For the first time in the history of the world, more people will die from overeating than undereating this year."

The American Beverage Association had filed the lawsuit challenging the rule, calling it an illegal overreach that encroached on consumers' personal liberty.

Bloomberg promoted the soda ban as a means to fight New York's overweight and obesity rate, which currently stands at 58 percent, as well as rein in the city's health-care costs.

According to the New York City Department of Health, the city spends an estimated $4.7 billion each year on medical care for overweight and obese people.

But a Quinnipiac University poll released last week found 51 percent of people opposed the ban, while 46 percent approved.

In recent weeks, more than 20,000 New Yorkers joined New Yorkers for Beverage Choices, a group that has fought the proposed drink restrictions with media campaigns and an online petition.

Meanwhile, in Mississippi lawmakers passed what's being called an "anti-Bloomberg bill" that would prevent municipalities there from regulating nutrition.

The Mississippi law, which is awaiting the governor's signature, makes the state legislature exclusively responsible for regulating "consumer incentive items and nutrition labelling for food that is a menu item in restaurants, food establishments, and vending machines."

Restricted from local regulation are characters, toys, games, trading cards, crayons, place mats and contests, the bill stated.

The bill passed the state Senate by a vote of 50-1, and the state House of Representatives by a vote of 92-26.