Cleveland has just won a decisive victory for the rights of local government against the state of Ohio. An Ohio judge upheld Cleveland’s right to exercise “home rule” powers under the state constitution after striking down an Ohio law that would have interfered with the city’s ban on restaurants using cooking oils that contain trans fats.
Cleveland has been battling with Ohio since the state passed the law last year. The state law was designed to block Cleveland’s ban on trans fats and effectively defeated the city’s ability to govern itself. However, Cuyahoga County Judge Nancy Russo ruled Monday that the state ban was an improper effort designed to meddle in local government law making.
The Cleveland law bans the use of trans fats when preparing food in any restaurant or food shop but still allows for its use in food sold in sealed packages. Trans fats are used in the creation of several commercial foods ranging from french fries to doughnuts but have received a tremendous amount of negative publicity as the obesity epidemic has gained national attention.
Cleveland’s ban is part of an effort by local U.S. governments to curtail the obesity epidemic through laws regulating nutrition. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been both praised and criticized for his proposed ban on large-sized sugary soft drinks. Bloomberg’s ban would impose steep fines on food vendors who provide large sodas to customers.
While politicians debate the issue of personal responsibility versus government involvement, the city of Cleveland is in need of a fitness overhaul. The city regularly shows up in polls for cities with high obesity rates. Earlier this year, Men’s Fitness Magazine ranked Cleveland as one of the top five “Fattest Cities” in the U.S. alongside Detroit, Memphis and Tampa with Houston gaining “top honors” at number one.
- John Milligan / 98.5 WNCX