CRN's Steve Mister on why the organization sued New York State


Nutritional Outlook caught up with CRN's president and CEO Steve Mister at Expo West 2024 to learn more about the organization's lawsuit.

The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN; Washington, D.C.) recently announced a lawsuit against New York State to prevent the enforcement of a law that would ban the sale of weight management and muscle building dietary supplement to minors. Nutritional Outlook caught up with CRN's president and CEO Steve Mister to learn more about the lawsuit.

What follows below is a transcribed excerpt of the interview:

Nutritional Outlook (NO): I wonder if you can kind of give me a brief synopsis of, you know, what the arguments are that you laid out in your complaint.

Steve Mister: Well, ultimately, what we're hoping to accomplish by [doing] this is to prevent the law from going into effect and and to stop it from restricting all of these products. You know, the interesting thing about these kinds of age restriction bills is that they come with a a $500 fine for retailers, so retailers are certainly incentivized to make sure that they are throwing a very broad net and making sure that that products are not slipping through and then available to people under 18. When you do that and you try to restrict products by age, retailers naturally have to put restrictions on them.

So they put them behind the counter. They put them in a glass case. They they do something to limit the self-service access. And so what starts out as an age restriction for a few people ends up being a limitation on access for everybody. So you know, the 35 year old can't walk down the aisle and look at weight loss products or sports nutrition products and compare labels and shop the aisle and make their decision about what's right for them.

In addition to that, because of the way the law is written, it limits the claims. So it's not like it's going after products where they can show that the product is harmful, they're going after the representations that are being made, so that then chills free speech too, because that legitimate commercial speech gets stopped as people are afraid to make claims around weight management or sports nutrition for fear that their product gets caught up in the dragnet. And then they lose sales.

So that really is what we're hoping to accomplish. You know, we're alleging a number of things in the lawsuit; violation of the 1st Amendment free speech clause, violation of due process because the law is so vague and and so subjective that retailers and marketers don't know which products are going to be covered and which ones aren't. The due process clause says that when you pass a law, it has to be clear enough so people know what kind of conduct is illegal and what's not.

In addition, the the whole premise for this law is built on this notion that dietary supplements cause eating disorders, which we have shown over and over again there is no evidence of that, so the whole thing is a is an excess of the police powers of the state because they don't even have a rational basis for imposing this law.

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