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CA Governor Gavin Newsom Vetoes Age-restrictive Legislation for Weight-loss Supplements

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom has vetoed AB 1341, which would have restricted the sale of weight loss supplements to individuals under the age of 18. California-LegislationThe legislation, which was introduced by Assembly member Cristina Garcia and staff last year, would have prohibited retailers from selling the dietary supplements to those without a valid prescription or ID proving their age to be 18 or older. In addition, it would have required the California Dept. of Public Health (CDPH) to maintain a list of products subject to restriction.

In his veto message, issued on Sept. 29, Gov. Newsom stated that “dietary supplements for weight loss are not considered drugs and, therefore, this measure would require CDPH to evaluate every individual weight loss and dietary supplement product for safety, which is beyond the scope of this department’s capabilities.” However, he stated, “Recognizing the need to educate and protect the public–particularly California’s youth–of the dangers of using dietary supplements for weight loss, I am directing CDPH to form a workgroup, inclusive of academic and medical experts, that would develop public policy recommendations on the best way to address this important health challenge.” He also noted that CDPH will work with the legislature next session to address sales age limits and “other potential legislative actions to address the responsible sale of dietary supplements for weight loss.”

The Natural Products Association (NPA) had testified against the bill and sent a letter to Gov. Newsom asking that the bill be vetoed. In response to the veto, NPA stated that “This is a decisive victory for California consumers, the natural products industry and science.   Supporters of this bill like STRIPED used a range of completely false claims and zero science to jam this through with no evidence, but to his credit Governor Newsom and his team looked at the facts and made the right call. NPA members had a big hand in persuading him by sending thousands of messages that made their opposition clear,” said Daniel Fabricant, PhD president and CEO of the NPA. “While we are extremely grateful Gov. Newsom listened to the science, the fact remains other states need to now take now notice and ensure these draconian policies never again see the light of day. NPA is still currently battling to ensure similar proposals in New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Missouri, and Rhode Island do not become law.”

“This is a prime example of what a strong grassroots network can do for the industry. NPA’s grassroots network sent over 10,000 emails and phone calls to Gov. Newsom and the legislature urging their opposition to AB 1341. We were the only organization working to ensure this was the type of victory our members received. While other groups changed their position because the battle was long and arduous NPA and our members stayed the course, and we are extremely grateful for the leadership they showed during this ordeal. The battle has been won, but the industry will continue to be under attack at the state and federal levels, whether its pre-market approval/mandatory product listing or age and access restrictions which is why it’s imperative we continue to utilize our grassroots network to warn lawmakers the dangers of bad policies.”

While opposing the initial version of AB 1341, The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) engaged with Assembly member Garcia to reach an amended version that required CDPH to evaluate products individually, rather than imposing a categorical restriction on dietary supplements. The amended version also removed liability from retail clerks and eliminated the restricted access to affected products as originally included in the legislation. When the bill passed the Senate with those changes, CRN removed its opposition and took a neutral position.

“We expect this bill or similar proposals to be reconsidered during the next legislative session,” said CRN Vice President, Public Relations, Julia Gustafson. “CRN stands ready to work with the lawmakers to ensure this legislation is reintroduced in a way that responsibly balances consumer safety with public access to dietary supplements.”

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