- Sen. Bill Monning's efforts to put warning labels on soft drinks and other sugary beverages cleared its first legislative test this past week.
- Retailers would be required to post warnings wherever soda is sold or dispensed, with penalties of up to $500 for any violations.
- The bill would add the following words to beverage labels: "STATE OF CALIFORNIA SAFETY WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay."
The bill takes the place of Monning's earlier efforts to tax sweetened beverages, which failed to pass. He claims that the warnings are warranted by studies that link the consumption of sugary drinks to increased obesity and diabetes, particularly in children. He says, "There is a public health epidemic in this state," and something must be done to combat it. Some doctors do support it, though not everyone agrees that the labels are the way to go.
It's no surprise that the beverage industry is not in favor of the measure. The California-Nevada Soft Drink Association had dietician Lisa Katic testify on its behalf, where she argued that the obesity epidemic is not driven by one food or beverage. Among the senators, Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, said she had reservations about it, particularly with regard to the question of the list of beverages affected and how the bill would affect vending machines. Given that California has a tendency to add restrictions and warning labels to many things, as in the case of Proposition 65, odds are good that Monning's bill will become law in the state.