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9th Circuit Court Blocks San Francisco Warning On Soda Ads

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- In a victory for big soda makers, a federal appeals court ruled that a San Francisco ordinance requiring health warnings on advertising for sugary drinks violates the first amendment.

The American Beverage Association reacted, saying in part: "We are pleased with this ruling, which affirms there are more appropriate ways to help people manage their overall sugar consumption."

The ordinance was first passed in 2015 and required ads on billboards and posters within the city to include a warning that drinking high-sugar beverages contributes to health problems including obesity and diabetes.

"The court went through the analysis and said we just think this is unduly burdensome. The soda industry is probably going to win on the underlying case, so we're going to stop this law from going into effect," said KPIX 5 Political Analyst Melissa Caen.

The judges granted a preliminary injunction and kicked the case back to a lower court. The court also found that the warning which would cover 20 percent of the ad space was too large, and suggested 10 percent might be legal.

"This decision is solely about the size of the warning label," said John Cote, communications director for the city attorney. "We're evaluating our next steps in light of this decision."

The San Francisco ordinance was part of a national effort to get people to stop people from drinking sweet drinks for health reasons.

"At the end of the day if you really want that soda, you're going to drink it," said Jessica Bakaldin in San Francisco.

Senator Scott Wiener who authored the ordinance said he is optimistic that the ordinance can be amended to pass judicial muster.

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