Washington, DC—Industry efforts continue in the fight to challenge the constitutionality of the law that was recently passed in New York, which would restrict consumer access to certain dietary supplements starting this month. Both the Natural Products Association (NPA) and the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) are taking legal action, filing lawsuits and preliminary injunctions.

CRN filed a lawsuit in March that seeks an injunction to prohibit the enforcement of age-based restrictions on the purchase of certain dietary supplements in the state of New York, and followed that with an emergency motion arguing that the law violates the New York and United States constitutions and should be invalidated because it is ambiguous, chills speech, is an excessive use of the state’s police powers, and preempted by certain Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act provisions. The association is asking the court to stop the state Attorney General from enforcing the law until the issues in the lawsuit have been resolved.

NPA filed litigation asserting that NY’s dietary supplement prohibition is unconstitutional in December, and Kyle Turk, Director of Government Affairs at NPA, recently offered an update of the issue on WholeFoods Magazine's podcast The Natural View. Turk stressed, "This is a critical lawsuit for [the natural products industry] because if we don't win this we're gonna see places like California, New Jersey, Maryland, and some of these other more progressive states follow suit."

About the NY Law to Restrict Access to Certain Supplements

As WholeFoods Magazine has reported, in October 2023, Governor Kathy Hochul (D-NY) signed A.5610/S.5823 into law to ban the sale of certain weight loss and sports nutrition dietary supplements to New York consumers under the age of 18. CRN explained that the law prohibits retailers in New York from selling to anyone under 18 years old any dietary supplements with ingredients that are labeled, marketed, or otherwise represented for “weight loss” or “muscle building,” even if the product doesn't explicitly make such claims. Retailers who fail to comply with the law, which is slated to take effect in April 2024, would be subject to fines for each infraction. 

One of the major concerns with the law: “Right now, this law is wide open to interpretation and incredibly ambiguous in terms of how it gets enforced,” said Mister. “This vagueness will create uncertainty in the retail marketplace, which will ultimately result in retailers deciding not to sell many dietary supplement products, as they will err on the side of caution in an attempt to not break this ill-defined law. In the end, consumers will have less products to choose from when they go to the pharmacy, grocery store or when placing orders online.”

STRIPED and the push for age-restriction laws

Lawmakers in NY and other states across the U.S. are under pressure from Harvard-based organization STRIPED (Strategic Training Initiative for the Prevention of Eating Disorders). The main objective of the proposals is to limit teens' access to certain dietary supplements that are referred to as "weight loss" or "diet" supplements.

“This new law was pushed by social advocates relying on an unscientific and meritless argument that dietary supplements somehow cause eating disorders in young people, when the research shows they do not,” said CRN President and CEO Steve Mister. “If we stand by and allow this law to go into effect, it won’t help young people with eating disorders, but it will stop families in the Empire State from purchasing the trusted nutrition products they use to keep their families healthy.”

NPA's Daniel Fabricant, Ph.D., has issued a call to action to the industry to join the fight to ensure access to dietary supplements. Information on advocacy efforts can be found on the advocacy page on NPA's website.

Learn more about efforts to age-restrict access to supplements, and industry efforts to educate on the topic, here.

Related: The Natural View: NPA's Kyle Turk on Anti-Supplement Legislation

The Impact of Current Policy & Enforcement on the Potential of the Active Nutrition Market

CA State Assembly Renews Push to Restrict Access to Supplements