San Francisco Sued Over Soda Advertising Ban, Warning Labels
The American Beverage Association sued the city of San Francisco regarding laws, requiring health warning labels on all sugar-sweetened beverage ads and prohibiting the ads on city property.
The group, in a lawsuit filed July 24—the day before the laws were set to take effect—claimed the laws violate the First Amendment, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
“The city is free to try to persuade consumers to share its opinions about sugar-sweetened beverages,” according to the lawsuit, as reported by the San Francisco Chronicle. “Instead, the city is trying to ensure that there is no free marketplace of ideas, but instead only a government-imposed, one-sided public ‘dialogue’ on the topic—in violation of the First Amendment.”
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously passed the legislation, which also banned city departments from purchasing sugar-sweetened drinks with city money, and the mayor signed the bills into law in June. The warning label required for all San Francisco ads on sugar-sweetened beverages with 25 or more calories per 12 ounces (milk and 100 percent fruit juices are exempt) is the first of its kind in the nation. The label will read, "Warning: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes and tooth decay. This is a message from the City and County of San Francisco.” The label must cover at least 20 percent of the ad space—the same requirement the Food and Drug Administration has for tobacco.
"San Francisco has sent a clear message that we need to do more to protect our community’s health,” said Scott Wiener, of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, in a statement after the bill's passage. “These health warnings will help provide people information they need to make informed decisions about what beverages they consume. Requiring health warnings on soda ads also makes clear that these drinks aren’t harmless—indeed, quite the opposite—and that the puppies, unicorns and rainbows depicted in soda ads aren’t reality. These drinks are making people sick, and we need to make that clear to the public.”
As for public property ads, sugar-sweetened beverage ads will join ads featuring tobacco and alcohol as those banned from appearing on city property.
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