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NAACP joins soda ban opponents in court to sue city over plan

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Soda Credit: (Getty Images)

The NAACP and the opponents to the city's pending soda ban squared off against the Health Department in civil court Wednesday to try to block the mayor's controversial proposal.

The civil rights group and the city's soda companies, restaurants and other businesses contended that the plan to prohibit the sale of soda sizes that are greater than 16 ounces is illegal and hurts mom and pops in minority communities.

The city, however, argued that the Department of Health was mandated by the law to implement the ban because it is a leading health problem.

"We look forward to the judge's decision and expect to prevail in this critical matter," city attorney Mark Muschenheim, said in a statement.

The attorneys representing the plaintiffs couldn't be reached for comment and the NAACP declined to talk about the case.

It is unknown when the judge will make his decision.

The ban is set to go into effect in March if the judge rules in favor with the city and affect any venue that gets a letter grade from the Health Department.

Justin Wilson, of the Center for Consumer Freedom, which ran ads that protested Mayor Michael Bloomberg on the issue, said the groups have a valid case against the city.

Wilson, who wasn't in court during the arguments, said the lack of a City Council vote showed the mayor was too authoritarian.

"The plaintiffs say this is something that should have been settled by the Council," he said.

The health department reiterated the city's obesity rate has grown over the last couple of years and it needs to curb the problem immediately before it costs New Yorkers.

"Sugary drinks are a leading cause of this epidemic, and they increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes," the Health Department said in a statement.

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