CSPI joined San Francisco’s defense of its challenged sugary drink health warning.

In February 2021, CSPI and other public health groups submitted an amicus brief in support of San Francisco in litigation brought against its proposed warning on sugary drink advertisements. The amicus brief furthers CSPI’s extensive work to promote healthy beverage choices and, in particular, advocacy for sugary drink health warnings.

The Ordinance

San Francisco’s ordinance requires that certain sugary drink advertisements in the City bear the following warning: “SAN FRANCISCO GOVERNMENT WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) can cause weight gain, which increases the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes.” The ordinance requires the warning to occupy at least 10 percent of a covered advertisement.

An earlier version of San Francisco’s sugary drink warning ordinance, which contained different text and was required to occupy at least 20 percent of advertisements, was struck down by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting en banc, in February 2020. The Court held that the City failed to establish that the 20 percent requirement was justified. CSPI also submitted an amicus brief to the Ninth Circuit in support of San Francisco’s earlier ordinance.

Our 2021 Brief

The amicus brief shared the health groups’ expertise to explain to the district court why the warning, which was challenged by the American Beverage Association and others on First Amendment grounds, is a factual and uncontroversial statement reflecting the consensus of the public health and medical communities.

On September 10, 2021, the case was dismissed following San Francisco's repeal of the warning ordinance effective on September 4, 2021.