The New York State Court of Appeals issued a decision this morning on the Portion Cap Rule:
We hold that the New York City Board of Health, in adopting the “Sugary Drinks Portion Cap Rule”, exceeded the scope of its regulatory authority. By choosing among competing policy goals, without any legislative delegation or guidance, the Board engaged in law-making and thus infringed upon the legislative jurisdiction of the City Council of New York.
Although the decision applies to the Portion Cap Rule, it has a much larger meaning.
The ruling means the Court does not accept the idea that health departments have the right to set health policy for city residents. I suspect we will be seeing the implications of this ruling for a long time to come.
The city health commissioner, Mary Bassett, issued a brief statement:
Today’s ruling does not change the fact that sugary drink consumption is a key driver of the obesity epidemic, and we will continue to look for ways to stem the twin epidemics of obesity and type 2 diabetes by seeking to limit the pernicious effects of aggressive and predatory marketing of sugary drinks and unhealthy foods.
This doesn’t sound like the city will appeal, but maybe it’s too early to say.
I will post additional comments later, as they come in. Stay tuned.
As I just told a reporter, ”
The key issue here is whether health departments have the right to set policy to protect the health of citizens under their jurisdiction. This court says no, but this seems precedent-setting. The medical community most definitely should support measures to improve the environment of food choice. Changing the behavior of individuals is extremely difficult and rarely successful; it works much better to improve the environment so it’s easier for individuals to make healthier choices.”