Health Law

Judge puts on hold landmark San Francisco law mandating sugary beverage ad warnings

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A plan to require warning labels on ads for sugar-added drinks in San Francisco is on hold, as the beverage industry pursues an appeal.

After initially denying an injunction last month concerning the landmark legislation, which is believed to be the first law of its kind in the nation, a federal judge reconsidered, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

Although he disagrees with the industry’s free-speech arguments, U.S. District Judge Edward Chen said this week that the extent to which the government can require a company to warn consumers of possible health dangers concerning its product has not been resolved by the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

“There is at least a close question as to whether plaintiffs have raised serious questions on the merits, particularly because the compelled disclosure has a 20% size requirement which is ‘not insubstantial,’” Chen wrote in this week’s opinion. “There is thus a plausible argument that there are serious questions on the merits and irreparable injury.”

A spokeswoman for the American Beverage Association told Courthouse News in an email that the group appreciates Chen’s ruling and looks forward to presenting its appeal.

“We continue to believe that the City of San Francisco’s mandate violates the constitutional rights of a select group,” wrote Fiona Hutton. “It unfairly discriminates against one particular category of products, based on one ingredient found in many other products.”

The Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) also has a story.

Related coverage: “Judge denies bid to block San Francisco law requiring warning labels on ads for sugary drinks”

See also:

Associated Press: “Philadelphia set to pass 1.5 cent-per-ounce soda tax”

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