Newsom vetoes California weight loss bill

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

© PromesaArtStudio / Getty Images
© PromesaArtStudio / Getty Images

Related tags California Dietary supplements weight management products

California Governor Gavin Newsom has vetoed AB3141, California's age restriction bill to prohibit retailers from selling certain dietary supplements for weight loss without a prescription or ID to those under 18.

AB-1341​ was introduced by Assemblywoman Christina Garcia early last year and passed the California State Assembly and Senate in August 2022.

Governor Newsom has now announced he will not be signing the bill into law, stating that while the bill’s author raised “an important public health issue related to the safety of diet or weight loss pills that can result in injury”​, the work required by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to establish a list of dietary supplements that would be subject to the bill is beyond the scope of the department's capabilities.

“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 public health challenge,”​ wrote Gov. Newsom.

NPA: “The battle has been won”

The Governor’s decision was welcomed by the Natural Products Association, which vocally opposed the bill since its inception. Daniel Fabricant, PhD, NPA’s president and CEO, said: “This is a decisive victory for California consumers, the natural products industry and science. Supporters of this bill like STRIPED [the Strategic Training Initiative for the Prevention of Eating Disorders] 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 Dr Fabricant.

“This is a prime example of what a strong grassroots network can do for the industry. NPA’s grassroots network sent over ten thousand emails and phone calls to Governor 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.”

CRN: We expect this bill or similar proposals to be reconsidered during the next legislative session

The bill was first introduced in the first quarter of 2021, and dietary supplement trade associations lodged their opposition. However, amendments introduced during the summer led to some associations to remove their opposition to the bill and adopt a neutral position, notably the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) and the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN).

Those changes to the final proposal, noted CRN, narrowed the bill’s scope, and would protect CRN members’ legitimate products.

“CRN had multiple conversations and a good working relationship with bill author Assemblymember Cristina Garcia and her staff,” ​commented Julia Gustafson, CRN's vice president of government relations. “We appreciate her willingness to include practical measures in the final version of her legislation that limited its scope and removed behind-the-counter restrictions.”

“We expect this bill or similar proposals to be reconsidered during the next legislative session,”​ added 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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