Why didn’t banning the super gulp (large size soda soft drinks) work in New York City?

Why didn’t banning the super gulp (large size soda soft drinks) work in New York City?

There are several explanations for why the Soda Ban in New York was not successful, but in my opinion, the biggest factors are the constitutional implications and the implication of autonomy in nutrition. Ultimately this policy was voted down by the New York County Supreme Court due to the fact that this bill violates the separation of powers principles1. It was further decided by the Supreme Court that this bill was arbitrary, capricious and was contrary to law1. One of the major factors framing the decision to reject the bill is the fact that soft drinks over consumption, not soda consumption itself, poses a health threat1. The decision not to ban soda was based on the idea that individuals should have autonomy over their nutrition choices, and that the decision to drink soda was up to the individual.

Many argue that this legislation is paternalistic, and does not allow individuals to take responsibility for their own health2. The 14th amendment of the constitution does not allow the state to deprive the individual of “Life, Liberty, or Property without due process of law.”1. While soda does not fall necessarily into one of these categories, the autonomy to decide what an individual consumes is certainly an individual liberty. However, there is still much debate as to at what point the government is allowed to intervene to “protect health, safety, and general welfare.”1.

Another such issue that caused the law not to be signed into effect is the fact that there are three other less restrictive avenues that had less impact on individual autonomy but were still potential interventions to deter soda consumption. Taxing soda drinks, requiring warning labels, and prohibiting the use of food stamps were all three soda related resolutions posed by the legislation but were never pursued.2




Hery, M. Large-Sized Soda Ban as an Alternative to Soda Tax. Cornell University Law School website. http://www.lawschool.cornell.edu/research/JLPP/upload/Min-note-final.pdf. Accessed August 5, 2016.

Pratt K. A Constructive Critique of Public Health Arguments for Antiobesity Soda Taxes and Food Taxes. Tulane Law Review. November 2012;87(1):73

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