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Efforts to Address Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Health Crisis will Continue after SB 203

Efforts to Address Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Health Crisis will Continue after SB 203

This article originally appeared as an email statement from California Black Health Network.

It is with genuine disappointment that we inform you that SB 203, the Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Labeling Bill, authored by Senator William Monning, and co-sponsored by the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, Latino Health Access, and California Black Health Network, has failed in the Senate Health Committee with only four out of the nine Senators voting in our favor. Wednesday afternoon, Senator Ed Hernandez, Committee Chair, along with Senators Isadore Hall, Richard Roth, and Janet Nguyen abstained from voting while Senator Jim Nielsen voted against the Bill.

Senator Holly Mitchell made an impassioned, moving statement about the need for the Senate Health Committee and the Legislative body to reconcile their personal preferences with their legislative responsibility about obesity and diabetes. Kudos to Senator Mitchell for stepping up and for her support of this bill. CBHN was also very proud of our 2014 Heroes in Health Awardee, Senator Richard Pan, for his supportive public statements and prodding questions challenging the opposition. Additional thanks to Senator Lois Wolk, for her "Aye" vote, and of course, to Senator William Monning for authoring this bill.

It was very sad to watch the debate over legislation designed to inform and educate our communities about making healthy choices about what they put into their bodies. While Senator Monning and our entire team of co-sponsors made an incredible case for the passage of this legislation, the opposition strongly attacked the facts and the science about the harmful effects of sugar-sweetened beverages. Even more disappointing is the fact that the bill died in Senate Health! These are people who are entrusted with protecting the health and wellbeing of their constituents. This was a blatant demonstration of the fear that the industry has instilled in our elected officials and the negative impact their influence has on our legislative process.

California Black Health Network, along with our co-sponsors and partners, will continue to fight this battle. Wednesday, more than 30 organizations lined up to support SB 203, including the American Heart Association, California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, Health Access, and many more. We know what needs to be done and we have the support of doctors, nurses, universities, scientists, researchers, and community-based organizations to get it done. Thirty years ago the California Black Health Network led the way for labeling on packages of cigarettes. We were resolute in getting that legislation passed. We did it and we saved hundreds, if not thousands of lives. We will stand just as resolute today on the issue of sugar-sweetened beverages. It is all about saving lives and building healthy families in healthy communities throughout this state. That is our vision and our mission so we will continue to fight.

I want to particularly thank Deputy and Policy Director Sandra Poole, Policy Analyst Jazmine Gordon, and Legislative Advocate Lydia Bourne for the long and tireless hours they spent working on this legislation. We have an amazing team and their commitment to this issue was astounding. Good job and great work!

Thanks to each and every one of you that supported this effort. Please continue that support and look for more information on our next steps.

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