The Council for Responsible Nutrition has become the second industry trade association to challenge a New York law that restricts minors' access to dietary supplement products.

March 13, 2024

2 Min Read

A New York law restricting minors’ access to certain dietary supplement products faces a growing number of court challenges from the industry.

In a lawsuit filed March 13 over a state law that prohibits minors from purchasing OTC diet pills or supplements marketed for muscle building or weight loss, the Council for Responsible Nutrition is seeking a declaratory judgment and injunctive relief against New York Attorney General Letitia James.

The new law – New York Assembly Bill A5610 – is set to take effect in April.

“We know that age restrictions on products inevitably lead to restrictions on access for everyone,” said Steve Mister, president and CEO of CRN, in a press release announcing the lawsuit. “Faced with potential fines, and without guidance from the state, stores are likely to cast an overly broad net on what is covered, and some retailers will either discontinue those products entirely or remove them from self-service availability, which means behind the counter or in locked cabinets. That prevents all consumers, regardless of age, from having widespread access to beneficial products.”

Advocates in favor of the state law are seeking to protect youth who are vulnerable to developing eating disorders. CRN and other industry representatives contend there is no causal association between dietary supplements and eating disorders.

Related:The Vitamin Shoppe general counsel criticizes NY age-restriction law

“Put simply, the Act does not actually address the problem it seeks to solve, and instead punishes truthful, and otherwise lawful communications,” according to CRN’s complaint.

Among other counts, the lawsuit alleged the bill is “void for vagueness” under the First and Fourteen amendments of the U.S. Constitution, and in violation of the First Amendment, “abridges commercial speech of lawful activity, namely, the consumption of dietary supplements and/or diet pills.”

The 51-page complaint was filed on behalf of CRN by attorneys with the law firm Cozen O’Connor.

The lawsuit is the second one to challenge New York’s law. James’ office, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment about CRN's complaint, also is facing a lawsuit filed in December by the Natural Products Association (NPA). In that case, the litigants are already sparring over procedural issues, including whether NPA has “standing” in the case.

"Like the supporters of this law, CRN’s member companies take the rise in eating disorders among young people, and the suffering they cause, very seriously," Mister said. “But after carefully evaluating the issue, we believe this law is an example of misguided regulation that will harm both the industry and consumers. By filing this lawsuit, we hope to ensure that New York residents continue to have access to safe and effective dietary supplements.”

Related:NPA, New York AG spar over ‘standing’ issue in lawsuit

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