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Soda Warning Labels

Blog Posts tagged "Soda Warning Labels"

A couple weeks back, we wrote about how San Francisco took a key step toward reducing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages by passing an ordinance requiring warning labels on advertisements for the products. We also talked about ongoing efforts at the statewide level aimed at confronting the health crisis posed by sugary drinks. In particular, we pointed to two bills: SB 203 (Monning), which would have required warning labels similar to those passed in San Francisco, and AB 1357 (Bloom), which would have imposed a two cent per ounce fee on the distribution on the beverages. Unfortunately, both of these bills failed to pass through the legislature. But a new study out of Mexico might breathe new life into at least one of these efforts in the coming years.

A new study by Mexico’s National Institute of Public Health and the University of North Carolina has found that Mexico’s national sugar-sweetened beverage tax implemented in 2014 has led to a reduction in consumption of the drinks. The tax of one peso per liter (roughly a 10% increase) was found to reduce consumption across the country, and particularly in low-income communities.

In recent years, public health advocates have ramped up efforts to highlight the health consequences of consuming soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages. Today, those efforts yielded some success as San Francisco supervisors approved an ordinance that requires advertisements for sugary drinks to include warning labels about the products’ adverse health side effects.

The ordinance applies to all drinks, including soda and energy drinks, that include 25 or more calories from sweeteners per 12 ounces. Advertising methods impacted include billboards, buses, and taxis within the city limits, but not newspapers and the internet. Milk and 100% natural fruit juice are exempted from the ordinance.

The supervisors behind the decision noted that inaction could not be justified in the face of a rising public health crisis:

The label for billboards and other ads would read: "WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay. This is a message from the City and County of San Francisco…”

"These are not harmless products that taste good," said Supervisor Scott Wiener, who authored the soda warning proposal. "These are products that are making people sick and we need to take action."

The movement to alert consumers of the health dangers of sugar-sweetened beverages has been gaining steam in the Bay Area for some time. Last fall, voters in Berkeley approved a tax on the beverages in hopes of reducing consumption.

Update 7:55 pm

Unfortunately, SB 203 (Monning) did not receive enough votes to make it out of Senate Health Committee. Our allies, and the bill's sponsor, the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, puts it best:

Update 6:23 pm

Senator Richard Pan expressed support for the bill saying "I do believe the science and the rationale is there." Senator Lois Wolk also expressed support for the bill.

Senator Monning offered a powerful closing argument before the committee voted.

You can help advance legislation to stem the growth of diabetes and promote healthy options to consumers. Diabetes is now the seventh leading cause of death in California and continues to disproportionately impact communities of color. Two legislative proposals are seeking to help make consumers aware of the health problems associated with sugar-sweetened drinks and to promote healthy alternatives. Please send in your letter of support for AB 1357 (Bloom) and SB 203 (Monning).

Letters of support must be received by this Wednesday, April 15th, so please download and send in your letter TODAY.

AB 1357 (Bloom) would require a 2-cents-per-ounce fee on sugary drinks, which would allow the state to invest in communities that are disproportionately impacted by type 2 diabetes and related sugary drink consumption diseases. Download a sample letter of support for AB 1357.

  • Hearing Date: April 21, 1:30 PM, Room 4202
    Assembly Health Committee

SB 203 (Monning) would require a warning label on sugar-sweetened beverages sold in California. Download a sample letter of support for SB 203.