New Bill Seeking to Print 'Warning' Labels on Sugary Beverages Advances in California
The Golden State hopes to reduce the health effects of sugary drinks despite a ban preventing new local soda taxes that lasts until 2031.
Thursday, May 30, 2019 Update:
The last surviving bill out of five aiming to reduce soda and other sugary beverage consumption has advanced as of Wednesday, May 23, the LA Times reported. This bill is aimed towards printing warning labels on sugary beverages. It would require labels on drinks with added sweeteners of caloric value that contain at least 75 calories per 12 fluid ounces—but has since been amended to exclude milk-based beverages.
“They represent the single leading source of increased bad calories that are being promoted in our communities and pushed on communities of color,” Monning said during the floor debate. He also cited our nation is experiencing a diabetes epidemic, in part to excess sugary beverage consumption.
The American Beverage Association strongly opposed the bill, saying its health impact claims go too far and that there are more effective tools for managing sugar consumption than "mandatory and misleading messages."
The Times also reported another bill is being considered that would bar the soda industry from offering subsidies—including discount coupons—that encourage soda consumption.
The original article, published Wednesday, February 20, 2019, continues below:
California lawmakers are proposing five bills today in an effort to reduce sugary beverage consumption across the state. This comes even after a recent 13-year ban on new soda taxes that was enacted after a major lobbying effort on the part of big soda companies.
Lawmakers are proposing these measures—including a ban on oversized "Big Gulp" drinks and warning labels about the health effects of sugar—out of concern for the rising rates of obesity and diabetes among children and teens, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Here is a brief rundown of each of the five bills, that are being proposed with the support of the California Dental Association and the California Medical Association, and what they would do:
Reduce unsealed soda container sizes
Similar to a bill instituted by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (which is no longer in place), this law would prevent restaurants, supermarkets, and convenience stores from selling soda containers larger than 16 ounces. The average soda serving has more than tripled in 20 years, and lawmakers say this ban on “supersized” sodas would make it easier for consumers to practice portion control.
Print warning labels on sugary beverages
Whether it’s a soda, sweet tea, energy drink, or other sugar-sweetened beverage, proponents of the bill say consumers should be able to make an informed decision for their health. Sen. Bill Monning told the Chronicle this would be no different than what is currently required on tobacco products.
Interested in learning more about the health effects of sugar?
Remove sugary beverages from checkout lanes
Proponents of this bill believe sodas and other sugar-laden drinks are too accessible and supermarkets, retail stores, and convenience stores shouldn’t accept the high fee soda companies pay to have their products displayed conveniently at checkout.
Stop soda companies from offering promotions to retailers
This bill is being introduced to prevent low prices on sugary beverages so that consumers will think more carefully before adding a bottle (or a case) to their shopping carts.
Tax sugary beverages to pay for programs to fight their health effects
Sugary beverages are the leading source of added sugar consumption in America according to the CDC, and consuming sugar in excess can lead to obesity, chronic diseases, and tooth decay, among other issues. Though the bill does not specify the amount of the tax, the Chronicle reported that previous proposals of a similar bill had advocated taxing two cents per fluid ounce. This would override the current ban by being a statewide, versus a citywide tax.
Berkeley was the first US city to tax soda, and saw a 10 percent decrease in consumption in the first year. Three other cities in California also have a soda tax, and were protected from last year’s ban on local soda taxes because the taxes had already been instituted.
Cities in other states have also enacted soda taxes, and a study of Philadelphia’s efforts in particular, found a 40 percent decrease in soda consumption in the first two months. While soda taxes only span eight cities in the US, others may follow suit if California finds success with one or more of these bills.