Tuesday

Judge Strikes Down New York City’s Ban on Big Sugary Drinks

Court ruling stops restriction on super-size sweetened beverages from taking effect today. The planned ban was one of the most ambitious and divisive initiatives of Michael Bloomberg’s tenure as New York’s mayor. It was intended to limit sugary drinks to 16 ounces at restaurants, theaters and food carts. But in an unusually critical opinion, a State Supreme Court justice called the limits “arbitrary and capricious,” echoing complaints of city business owners and consumers who complained that the rules had confusing loopholes and many exemptions. Bloomberg said he would immediately appeal. “I’ve got to defend my children, and yours, and do what’s right to save lives,” the mayor said. “Obesity kills. There’s no question it kills.” The New York Times

Tanning salon operators agree to pay Texas $161,520 to settle false health claims. The state’s attorney general had accused Darque Tan, a Houston-based chain with 60 salons, of misleading the public by claiming tanning beds are safe and may prevent cancer. As FairWarning reported in August, the alleged claims dovetailed with a broader effort by the tanning industry to counter mounting evidence of the hazards of sunbeds. Without admitting wrongdoing, the company’s president and one of its franchisees agreed to avoid making claims that tanning beds are risk-free. They will also pay civil penalties, attorneys fees and investigative costs. The Texas Legislature is considering a bill that would ban minors under 18 from tanning indoors. KUFH-Houston, (Fort Worth) Star-Telegram

Class action lawsuit seeks speedier cleanup of Fukushima disaster contamination. The case was filed by roughly 800 plaintiffs against the Japanese government and the nuclear plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co. The filing was made in Fukushima District Court Monday, the  second anniversary of the 9.0-magnitude earthquake that unleashed a giant tsunami along Japan’s northeastern Pacific coast that led to the nuclear plant’s meltdowns. The disaster forced tens of thousands of residents to abandon homes and jobs in heavily contaminated areas. It is feared it will be decades before people can return. Separately, activist physicians accused the World Health Organization of downplaying the health impact of the disaster. The Japan Daily Press, Agence France-Presse (from Tokyo)Agence France-Presse (from New York)

Disclosures show 22 U.S. doctors receiving more than $500,000 since 2009 from drug companies. The figures, which came from companies accounting for about half of U.S. prescription drug sales, reflected payments for giving talks and consulting. Half of the top earners are from a  specialty, psychiatry, often criticized for its reliance on medications. The amount paid “boggles my mind,” said Dr. James H. Scully Jr., the American Psychiatric Association chief executive. Paid speaking “is perfectly legal, and if people want to work for drug companies, this is America,” he said. “But everybody needs to be clear — this is marketing.” Starting in 2014, all drug and medical device makers that pay doctors will have to report such spending. ProPublica

Factory accident that amputated an Ohio worker’s finger leads to a proposed fine of $65,800. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Smithville Manufacturing of Wooster, Ohio, for 21 violations, including one willful offense, its most serious charge. OSHA said the willful violation was failing to provide guards on mechanical power presses. OSHA began investigating the auto parts manufacturer in December after a worker lost a finger on a press. Separately, OSHA proposed $73,150 in fines against Lansdowne, Pa.,-based J.C. Construction and fines of $70,840  against Paterson, N.J.,-based F&G  Contractors. Both construction companies were accused of six violations, including exposing workers to fall hazards. OSHA, The (Canton, Ohio) Repository

 Compiled by Stuart Silverstein and Bridget Huber

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