Just a day before they were to take effect, limits on large sugary drinks in New York City have been invalidated by a judge, in a significant blow to one of the most ambitious and divisive initiatives of mayor Michael Bloomberg’s tenure.
In an unusually critical opinion, Justice Milton Tingling of the state Supreme Court in Manhattan called the limits ”arbitrary and capricious”, echoing the complaints of city business owners and consumers who had deemed the rules unworkable and unenforceable, with confusing loopholes.
The decision comes at a sensitive time for the mayor, who is determined to burnish his legacy as he enters the final months of his career in City Hall.
Before the judge ruled on Monday, Mr Bloomberg had called for the soda limits to be adopted by cities around the globe; he now faces the possibility that one of his most cherished endeavours will not come to fruition before he leaves office, if at all.
The mayor’s plan, which he pitched as a novel effort to combat obesity, aroused the ire of the US soft-drink industry, which undertook a multimillion-dollar legal and advertising campaign to block it.
Mr Bloomberg said he would immediately appeal, and at a quickly arranged news conference, he fiercely defended the rationale for the rules, which would have limited the size of sugary drinks to 16 ounces (450 millilitres) at restaurants, theatres and food carts.