American Beverage Groups Suing San Francisco Over Soft Drink Warnings

American Beverage Groups Suing San Francisco Over Soft Drink Warnings

The American Beverage Association (ABA) is suing the city of San Francisco, claiming legislation passed early June violates the First Amendment.

ERIN MARY Doyle
Posted by ERIN MARY Doyle

As reported in B&T, San Francisco supervisors unanimously passed legislation requiring health warnings on sugar-sweetened drinks and prohibiting any outdoor advertisements within the city.

The health warnings, which take up at least 20 per cent of the labeling space, 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 ABA alleges that the ban, “discriminates against speech based on the identity of the speaker, in violation of the First Amendment, by expressly prohibiting speech that includes the name of any sugar-sweetened beverage produce.

“The city is free to try to persuade consumers to share its opinions about sugar-sweetened beverages,” the lawsuit says. “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.”

Other consumer groups joining the ABA include the California State Outdoor Advertising Association and the California Retailers Association.