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Bloomberg: Lawsuit Against NYC's Sugary Drink Ban 'A Disgrace'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Mayor Michael Bloomberg lashed out Friday at the NAACP's New York branch and a network of Hispanic groups for filing a lawsuit against the city's ban of supersized sugary drinks.

During his weekly radio show, Bloomberg called the lawsuit "a disgrace" and defended the ban as a way to curb obesity.

"For the NAACP, and in all fairness it's the local chapter and not the national one, for them to do this is such an outright disgrace. How they can look themselves in the mirror knowing that they are hurting deliberately the life expectancy and quality of life of the people they are supposed to serve," Bloomberg said. "The same thing is true for this Hispanic organization that sold its soul because a lot of Hispanic kids are overweight as well."

On Wednesday, the two groups along with beverage makers, restaurateurs and others said the ban would only hurt small and minority-owned businesses and do little to help improve health.

"New Yorkers do not want to be told what to drink,'' said attorney James Brandt.

But the city Health Department's chief lawyer, Thomas Merrill, said the ban was reasonable and needed to fight the city's growing obesity problem.

"While this may not be a silver bullet that will cure the obesity epidemic, it's rational --- (and) one step that can be taken," said Merrill.

The new regulation puts a 16-ounce limit on sugary drinks sold at city restaurants, movie theaters, sports venues and street carts and applies to both bottled and fountain drinks.

It does not include grocery or convenience stores that don't serve prepared food and would not apply to diet soda, other calorie-free drinks or anything that has at least 50 percent milk or milk substitute.

The suit was filed by the American Beverage Association and others and seeks to block the ban, which is set to take effect in March.

There was no immediate ruling on Wednesday.

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