Chalk up a much-needed win for the forces of reason in the debate over food and beverage advertisements aimed at kids. Late last month a federal appeals court dismissed two suits brought against alcohol companies by a cohort of angry parents — plus their activist handlers and parasitic trial lawyer buddies — claiming that ad campaigns were inducing minors to illegally purchase adult beverages. Fortunately, bluster and moral panic don’t count as evidence in the courtroom: The suit was thrown out because the plaintiffs never established a causal link between advertisements and kids’ behavior.
This decision will have substantial legal implications for the current uproar surrounding activist claims that food marketing causes childhood obesity. Most importantly, it establishes a relatively high burden of proof for anyone arguing that TV and print ads cause unhealthy eating habits in kids.
Of course, that doesn’t mean activists will give up their crusade to sue food companies into oblivion. And there will always be pliable moms and dads who are all too willing to play the victim and foist the blame for their parental weakness on someone else.