Judge stops New York City ban on large sugary drinks

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — New York City’s planned ban on the sale of large sugary drinks won’t go into effect Tuesday after a state judge blocked the restrictions, calling them “arbitrary and capricious.”

“The court finds that the regulation … is laden with exceptions based on economic and political concerns,” Justice Milton Tingling wrote.

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg says city will appeal drink ban reversal. Says the city has a responsibility to confront the obesity epidemic.

Scheduled to begin at midnight, the law would have restricted the sale of sugary drinks to no more than 16 ounces.

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.

The lawsuit was brought by a group of business associations — including the American Beverage Association, the National Association of Theatre Owners of New York State and the New York Korean-American Grocers Association.

The opponents argued that the city had overstepped its authority. Among other things, they said, the rules would disproportionately hurt small and minority-owned businesses.

“The court ruling provides a sigh of relief to New Yorkers and thousands of small businesses in New York City that would have been harmed by this arbitrary and unpopular ban,” the American Beverage Association said in a statement.

The mayor’s office quickly vowed to appeal the decision. City officials believe the health department has the legal authority to use the ban to fight an “obesity epidemic,” according to a tweet from Bloomberg’s office.

Nearly 60% of New York City adults and 40% of city schoolchildren are overweight or obese, according to the decision.

“I would like to see (businesses that serve large sugary drinks) to do exactly what the Board of Health asked them to do,” New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Monday. “It’s voluntary, until we win.” The ban was passed in September by the New York City Board of Health, following weeks of intense debate.

But critics have decried the rules as a sign of the growing “nanny-state” and an unfair intrusion on personal freedom.

–CNN’s Mary Snow contributed to this report.