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San Francisco city sued for health warning regulation for sugary drinks

DBR Staff Writer Published 30 July 2015

The American Beverage Association, a trade organization that represents the beverage industry in the US, has filed a lawsuit in the federal court against the city of San Francisco over its new regulation which requires health warnings on ads for sugary sodas and other drinks.

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Last month, the San Francisco city officials voted in favor of the new regulation to contribute to reducing obesity, diabetes and other health problems.

Under the ordinance, drinks with more than 25 calories from sweeteners per 12 ounces were required to display the warnings. Warnings were also required for sports and energy drinks, vitamin waters and iced teas that have more than 25 calories.

The ordinance, which sought San Francisco Board of Supervisors approval, also prohibits advertisements for certain sugary drinks on city property.

The American Beverage Association, however, claims that the new regulations violate First Amendment rights of beverage companies, The Inquisitr reports.

Billboards and other ads will have to carry the wording: "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 San Francisco Chronicle cited ABA as saying: "The city is free to try to persuade consumers to share its opinions about sugar-sweetened beverages.

"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."

In the lawsuit, the ABA is joined by the California State Advertising Association and the California Retailers Association.

The new legislation is likely to be effective by the end of this summer.


Image: San Francisco's new legislation prohibits advertisements for sugary beverage on city property. Photo: courtesy of Naypong/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net.