American Beverage Association Sues San Francisco Over Soda Ad Warnings

ABA_Twitter_Logo_400x400The American Beverage Association (ABA) has sued San Francisco over recently passed legislation by city administration that requires warning labels on ads for sugar-sweetened beverages. The San Francisco Chronicle reported the news Friday, with the lawsuit arriving six weeks after the city’s Board of Supervisors voted unanimously in favor of the legislation.

The Board agreed to labeling that would read “WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes and tooth decay.” In addition, the legislation bans advertisements for sugary beverages on city property and bans the use of city funds to purchase such beverages. Public health officials have also launched “The Open Truth” campaign, placing ads on public transportation vehicles and stations throughout San Francisco warning consumers of the potential health risks associated with soda consumption.

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

Last November, San Francisco voters failed to pass a measure that would institute a 2-cent-per-ounce tax on sodas and other sugary beverages. Nearby voters in Berkeley, Calif., however, passed landmark legislation to become the first city in the country to impose a tax on soda. Seventy-five percent of Alameda County voters voted in favor of the tax.

Meanwhile, lawmakers in Alabama are set to meet next month to discuss a statewide tax increase on soda as the state looks to close a shortfall in its 2016 budget of $200 million. The proposed soda tax would go a long way towards doing so; officials have said it would raise $182 million. Unsurprisingly, the ABA has come out in opposition to the tax calling it “regressive and harmful” in a press release issued on July 24.