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Is NYC's Proposed Ban on Big Sugary Drinks Legal?

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has plans to introduce a sugary drink ban in New York City and, as predicted, the industry is not happy. The proposed NYC sugary drink ban would prohibit food service establishments from selling sugar-laden beverages that contain more than 25 calories per 8 fluid ounces.

If approved by the Board of Health, restaurants, corner bodegas and even movie theatres will need to cut down on the size of their sugary drinks. Grocery and convenience stores will be the only places to purchase oversized soft drinks.

The fearful need to keep in mind that the NYC sugary drink ban does not cover diet sodas, fruit juices or dairy-based drinks. It also doesn't prohibit the purchase of two drinks or refills, reports The New York Times. Patrons will just need to drink 3 small cups of soda instead of 1.

Despite this reassurance, some are probably still scratching their heads and wondering how such a law can be legal. The reason is a bit complicated.

Under the U.S. Constitution, local governments are given a significant amount of leeway when it comes to matters of health, morality and safety. States and cities have successfully banned synthetic marijuana, trans fat in restaurant food, shark fin soup and foie gras.

Such prohibitions are usually upheld unless they discriminate against out-of-state businesses or between products without a valid reason to do so. Arguably, there's a good reason to allow diet, milk and juice beverages while banning other large sugary drinks. They have less calories and provide some nutrition.

Nonetheless, if the NYC sugary drink ban comes to fruition, there's a good chance someone will sue. People want the government out of their stomachs and companies want to sell their goods.

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