SACRAMENTO — Citing studies linking soda to obesity, a state lawmaker and medical experts proposed a first-in-the-nation bill Thursday that would require sugary drinks sold in California to have health warning labels similar to those on packs of cigarettes.
State Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel) and the California Medical Assn. said the legislation is necessary because research links sugary drink consumption to skyrocketing rates of diabetes, tooth decay and obesity.
“When the science is this conclusive, the state of California has a responsibility to take steps to protect consumers,” Monning said. “As with tobacco and alcohol warnings, this legislation will give Californians essential information they need to make healthier choices.”
A warning label would be required on the front of all cans and bottles of soda and fruit drinks sold in stores with added sweetners that have 75 or more calories per 12 ounces.
The label would read: “STATE OF CALIFORNIA SAFETY WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay.”
At fast food restaurants with self-serve soda dispensers, the label would be on the dispenser. In a movie theater or business where the dispenser is behind the counter and used by employees, the label would be on the counter.
The wording for the label was developed by a national panel of nutrition and public health experts.
“These diseases cost California billions of dollars in health care and lost productivity every year,” said Dr. Harold Goldstein of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, which is sponsoring the legislation. “When any product causes this much harm, it is time to take action.”
However, past efforts by Monning to discourage soda consumption have not made it far because of opposition from the food industry.