ANA Joins Legal Fight Against San Francisco 'Sugary Drinks' Ordinance

Advertisers Call Measure 'Regulatory Nannyism'

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Saying it violates Americans' right to free speech, the Association of National Advertisers on Tuesday joined the legal fight against a San Francisco ordinance that requires posted ads for sugar-sweetened drinks to warn consumers they are harmful to your health.

In its "friend of the court brief" to a lawsuit against the ordinance by the American Beverage Association, the ANA said the San Francisco Board of Supervisors "predicated their highly restrictive action on the dangerous theory that local officials may constitutionally commandeer space on certain types of advertisements whenever they feel like sending a government message."

The California Retailers Association and the California State Outdoor Advertising Association joined the ABA in suing the board of supervisors in a U.S District Court in San Francisco. The case is scheduled to be heard on April 7.

In its court filing, the ANA said it is involved in the lawsuit to preserve "the robust protections afforded to advertising by the First Amendment."

"In particular, it has a strong interest in safeguarding the longstanding vitality of constitutional protections for commercial speech," the ANA's brief said.

The ordinance was approved in June as part of several anti-soda regulations. It requires soft drink ads on billboards and other outdoor spaces contain a warning that "Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay."

The warning must be placed on all ads of beverages that contain 25 calories or more of sugar per 12 ounces. It must cover at least 20 percent of the ad and be enclosed in a rectangular border.

Dan Jaffe, the ANA's chief lobbyist called ordinance "regulatory nannyism."

"If San Francisco can get away with this, similar types of restrictions will take place in the 30,000 cities and counties across the United States," he said.

The two other ordinances signed by San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee in June would prohibit ads for sugary drinks on city-owned property, like parks and bus shelters, and ban city departments from purchasing sugary drinks with city funds.

But in December, the city repealed the ban on soft drink ads on city property, saying it could cause First Amendment concerns.

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