New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has signed a bill barring the...

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has signed a bill barring the sale of diet pills and muscle-building proteins to youths under 18 years old. Credit: AP/Hans Pennink

ALBANY – A new state law bans the sale of diet pills and muscle-building protein, including creatine, as well as green tea extracts to youths under 18 years old.

Gov. Kathy Hochul signed the bill Thursday a year after she had vetoed a similar measure.

“For decades, we have seen young people struggle with eating disorders and the pressure to meet unrealistic societal expectations,” said Sen. Shelley Mayer (D-Yonkers), the bill’s cosponsor. “As teens and young adults join social media at younger ages, we must do more to protect them.”

Assemb. Nily Rozic (D-Queens) said the measure she cosponsored is needed to combat the “diet culture” of youths.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • A new state law bans the sale of diet pills and muscle-building protein, including creatine, as well as green tea extracts to youths under 18 years old.
  • Supporters say the ban, signed into law by Gov. Hochul, is needed because the products have been linked to health issues and contributed to eating disorders.
  • Hochul also signed bills banning corporal punishment in privately run schools and raising the allowable age to receive an ATV safety certificate to 14 years or older.

“Diet pills, weight loss and muscle-building supplements are often marketed as quick fixes for insecurities,” Rozic said. “It is our responsibility to protect vulnerable and impressionable kids and teens from products that not only exacerbate negative self-image, but also have detrimental effects on the growing body.”

Mayer and Rozic said the ban on youth purchases of the supplements is needed because the products have been linked to severe liver damage and deaths as well as contributing to eating disorders and poor mental health among teenagers. The Democrats also say some dangerous ingredients, including stimulants and steroids, have been used in some of the products without being noted on labels.

Mayer and Rozic said the danger of the products to youths isn’t widely known, and passing the bill into law would raise awareness. The supplements are often sold alongside vitamins.

There was strong opposition.

A group of manufacturers and suppliers of the supplements called the proposal “nanny-state” legislation that erodes consumer rights. The Council for Responsible Nutrition based in Washington says the State Legislature is acting as “protein police” and the measure creates “a slippery slope to more loss of consumer choice in retail stores.”

“Teens can purchase over-the-counter medications and sugary snacks, but they won't be able to purchase many dietary supplements and some sports nutrition drinks?” the organization stated. “The new "nanny-state" law would limit how families purchase goods for their home, and would attempt to replace what should be a discussion between parents and kids about the safe and responsible use of natural supplement products with an un-enforceable law that New York state can't afford to make a reality.”

The Harvard School of Public Health, however, reported that the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly opposes the supplements for youths. A national survey found 11% of teenagers have used weight-loss supplements and 5% of teenagers users creatine, a popular muscle-building supplement, the school reported. Diet pills used by youths are linked to eating disorders, and protein supplements can elevate the chances of testicular cancer and other health dangers, the school said.

The new law differs from the bill Hochul vetoed last year. Last year’s bill required the state to develop a list of products that would be off limits to purchase by youths based on ingredients. The bill’s sponsor feared that list could be easily evaded with different, but equally dangerous ingredients, according to state records. The bill now identifies the products by the way they are marketed, not by their ingredients.

State records show the Council for Responsible Nutrition has lobbied Albany, including the Senate, since 2019 through a longtime Albany firm, Ostroff Associates, spending more than $3,500 a month this year.

Among other bills signed into law by Hochul Wednesday are:

  • A ban on corporal punishment in privately run schools, which is already in place for public schools. The New York Times had reported that students in some Hasidic Jewish schools had been subjected to corporal punishment, including hitting, slapping and kicking by teachers. “There have been far too many incidents of abuse in our schools,” said Assemb. Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove), a co-sponsor of the measure. “This addresses that crisis."
  • Higher age limits to legally operate all-terrain vehicles. The bill states that ATVs have been involved in accidents that injured 24,000 children under 16 years old nationwide. The law raises the allowable age to receive an ATV safety certificate to 14 years or older, from 10 years old, after taking a safety course. In addition, children under 16 will only be allowed to operate an ATV on public land and must be supervised by someone 18 or older.

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