Legislative Alert – Baltimore City Sweetened Beverage Labeling/Advertising Law

The Baltimore City Council is currently considering Council Bill 16-617 which would require health warnings be placed in the advertising for sugar sweetened beverages in the city. The bill would also require the warning to be placed on menus and at the point of sale in retail establishments.

AAF opposes this bill as unconstitutional, unnecessary and a dangerous precedent for the treatment of advertising for other products out of favor with policy makers. We urge members of AAF-Baltimore to contact Council members and ask them to oppose CB16-617.

The bill should be opposed because:

· It is unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court has clearly stated that commercial speech is protected speech under the First Amendment of the Constitution. This includes protections from the compelled speech in CB 16-617. Enforcement of a similar ordinance passed in San Francisco has been stayed pending a challenge in court.

· It would penalize local businesses. Because the bill excludes publications, radio and television and the Internet, the burden would fall most heavily on local businesses – outdoor companies, retailers and restaurants.

· The advertising and beverage industries are taking meaningful steps to address this issue. Through the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative the industries have made great strides in improving the nutritional profile of both beverage and food products. We have also significantly reduced the advertising of such products to children.

The Council has conducted an initial hearing on the measure is and is considering if and how to move forward. Please contact Council members and ask them to reject this well intentioned, but harmful measure.

Council President
Bernard C. “Jack” Young, 410-396-4804

District 1
James B. Kraft, 410-396-4821

District 2
Brandon M. Scott, 410-396-4808

District 3
Robert Curran, 410-396-4812

District 4
Bill Henry, 410-396-4830

District 5
Rochelle “Rikki” Spector, 410-396-4819

District 6
Sharon Green Middleton, 410-396-4832

District 7
Nick Mosby, 410-396-4810
District 8
Helen Holton, 410-396-4818

District 9
William “Pete” Welchk 410-396-4815

District 10
Council Vice-President
Edward Reisinger, 410-396-4822

District 11
Eric T. Costello, 410-396-4816

District 12
Carl Stokes, 410-396-4811

District 13
Warren Branch, 410-396-4829

District 14
Mary Pat Clarke, 410-396-4814