California State Senator Bill Monning (D-Carmel) has introduced legislation (SB 1000) that would require all sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) containing more than 75 calories per 12-ounce serving to carry safety warn- ings. Co-sponsored by the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, the Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Safety Warning Act would direct manufacturers, distributors and retailers to place the following notice on sealed containers, multipacks and vending machines, as well as any premises where SSBs are sold in unsealed containers: “STATE OF CALIFORNIA SAFETY WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay.”The bill would also mandate the two-year retention of business records pertaining to the distribution, purchase or sale of SSBs as part of a statewide effort “to determine the quantity and type of sugar-sweetened beverages distributed, purchased or sold.”
“When the science is this conclusive, the State of California has a responsibility to take steps to protect consumers,” said Monning in a February 13, 2014, press release. “As with tobacco and alcohol warnings, this legislation will give Californians essential information they need to make healthier beverage choices.”
Meanwhile, a recent poll commissioned by the California Endowment reported that 74 percent of California voters support health warnings labels on sugary drink products similar to those found on cigarettes. Conducted November 14 through December 5, 2013, the Field-TCE Obesity and Diabetes Prevention Survey contacted 1,002 registered voters in California via tele- phone to solicit their opinions on SSB warning labels, SSB taxation and other topics. In addition to bipartisan support for SSB warning labels, the poll allegedly found that 67 percent of voters favor proposals to use the revenue from SSB taxation to fund school nutrition and physical activity programs for children.
“Consumers will benefit by having warning labels on soda packaging just as they did when warning labels were placed on tobacco products,” saidCalifornia Endowment Senior Vice President Daniel Zingale. “With obesity as a very real threat to the health of their children, parents need this informa- tion in order to make decisions about what’s best for their families.” See Field Research Corp., February 20, 2014.