San Francisco may see health warnings on some soda ads this summer
(ABC) -- San Francisco residents may see warning signs on certain soda advertisements about the beverage's possible health hazards starting this summer.
But the battle over the warnings will continue even though a federal court denied a move by the American Beverage Association and other state associations to block the warnings.
The groups had tried to block the message from the beverage ads in the city that states:“WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, andtooth decay. This is a message from the City and County of San Francisco.”
According to court documents, the warning will be required on paper, poster and billboard ads in areas like stadiums or bus shelters. It will not be required in newspaper, TV or radio ads, or on the internet. It will also not be required on menus or the actual containers. When featured, the warning must take up "20 [percent] of the area of each" ad, the court docs state.
After the court's ruling earlier this week, the ABA said it "look[s] forward" to continuing its fight in court.
San Francisco would be the first city to have warnings on publicly displayed soda ads. The city may also have a ballot initiative on the November ballot for a tax on soda consumption. Other cities like Philadelphia and Boulder, Colorado, are also considering measures to institute some kind of soda tax.
Soda consumption is at its lowest level in 30 years, according to Beverage Digest, a trade publication, as consumers turn to healthier beverage options.
Last July, the ABA, the California Retailers Association and the California State Outdoor Advertising Association sued the city of San Francisco to overturn the ad law that was enacted last year, saying it suppresses First Amendment private speech and penalizes private speakers for their views on sugar-sweetened beverages, according to the complaint.
The plaintiffs had hoped for an injunction to prevent the city from enforcing the law. But on Wednesday, the court denied their motion for a preliminary injunction. Judge Edward Chen wrote in his decision that the plaintiffs "are not likely to succeed on the merits of their First Amendment claim, and it is unlikely that they would suffer irreparable harm if the ordinance were to go into effect."
The ABA said in a statement following the court's decision, “We are disappointed in the Court's ruling on our motion for a preliminary injunction as we believe that the City of San Francisco’s mandate violates the constitutional rights of a select group by unfairly discriminating against one particular category of products, based on one ingredient found in many other products.
"We are reviewing the decision and look forward to making our case on the merits of this ordinance in court."