This summer the City of San Francisco passed legislation targeting sugar-sweetened beverages, one that would require warning labels on billboard advertisements for these products and another that prohibits advertising them on city property.
As we have said before, government regulation through warning labels or other discriminatory methods will not help people lead balanced lifestyles, but these new ordinances go even further by violating the First Amendment.
A recent opinion piece in Forbes agrees stating, “the ordinances are so blatantly disrespectful of advertisers’ and consumers’ First Amendment rights, it’s not a question of whether a court will strike them down, but on which grounds it will do so.”
Cory Andrews with the Washington Legal Foundation continues, “The city will soon find out that the Constitution does not permit such content- or viewpoint-based discrimination against speech, even when it is commercial in nature.”
And like other attempts to demonize our products through government regulation, San Francisco’s actions fail to address real public health issues. Andrews concludes, “Advertising bans and mandated warnings, especially ones as riddled with exceptions as San Francisco’s, have never proven successful at limiting product consumption…they give people the false impression that public officials are doing something useful about a perceived problem.”