Washington, DC—The battle will continue over the New York state law that restricts consumer access to certain dietary supplements under the age of 18. In the latest development, the Natural Products Association  (NPA) shared the news of a decision by the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of New York to dismiss without prejudice NPA’s lawsuit (filed in 2023) seeking a preliminary injunction against the NY law. NPA has been fighting against the legislation in NY and similar proposals across the U.S. for years (read about the history and major events).

Among the points made by Judge Joan M. Azrack on June 13: At least until the Statute causes one of Plaintiff’s members to (1) implement or invest in company-wide age-verification procedures; (2) lose sales; or (3) incur higher delivery costs, Plaintiff’s alleged future losses will remain purely “conjectural or hypothetical,” rather than “imminent” as the Constitution requires.                      

“We are disappointed in this ruling but believe there is still an opportunity to block the damaging effects of this misguided law,” said Daniel Fabricant, Ph.D., President and CEO of NPA. "We are weighing all of our options because we are determined to protect consumers and our industry from these baseless attempts to limit the sale of these natural products to people who want to purchase them."          

About Efforts 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. Retailers who fail to comply with the law, which went into effect in April 2024, are subject to fines.

Lawmakers in NY and other states across the U.S. have been under pressure from Harvard-based organization STRIPED (Strategic Training Initiative for the Prevention of Eating Disorders), which argues that dietary supplements can play a role in eating disorders in young people. "Part of their efforts have been to propose age restricted legislation in various states, including New Jersey, Rhode Island, New York, California, Colorado, Missouri, Maryland, and Massachusetts," Susan J. Hewlings, Ph.D., RD, and Douglas S. Kalman, Ph.D., RD, have explained to WholeFoods Magazine readers. "While the details of the proposed legislation vary from state to state, the main objective of all of them is to limit access of teens to specific dietary supplements that they refer to as 'weight loss' or 'diet' supplements. These include protein, creatine, branched chain amino acids, and diet pills, which are not clearly defined. The research they reference to support their platform is full of scientific holes, which are discussed in a recent review published in Nutrients."

In March 2024, Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) filed a lawsuit challenging age restrictions on certain dietary supplements in New York, arguing that the law infringes on lawful commercial speech and violates the First Amendment rights of supplement marketers and retailers. In May, a federal court in the Southern District of New York denied the State of New York’s motion to dismiss CRN’s claims that the law infringes on lawful commercial speech and violates the First Amendment rights of supplement marketers and retailers, but the judge granted the State’s motion to dismiss the three other causes of action in CRN’s complaint.

Read more about the efforts to age-restrict access to certain nutritional supplements, and actions being taken by CRN and NPA, here.

Calls for Advocacy

Following NPA's annual federal government advocacy Fly-In on Capitol Hill on May 22, for which more than 100 natural products industry members gathered in D.C. to meet with members of Congress and their staff, industry members stressed the need for advocacy on the age-restriction issue and other pressing issues. “NPA, CRN, and other industry associations are fighting for this industry," said Heather Wainer, WholeFoods Magazine Publisher and VP of Media. "But industry members need to do it too. Write to your elected officials, invite them to your places of business, let them see first hand what we do and why we need their help. And join us at Fly-In Day next year!”

For independent natural products retailers across the U.S., a new survey highlights the challenges they face. Read their insights and observations: DSHEA at 30—Where’s our grassroots army?