San Francisco Moves Closer to Soft Drink Warning Labels

On Tuesday, San Francisco’s board of supervisors approved mandatory warning labels on advertisements for soda and other sugary sweetened soft drinks that can contribute to obesity, diabetes and tooth decay, among other health issues. The ordinance also prohibits soft drink company advertisements from appearing on city-owned property. City agencies are also prohibited from purchasing the soft drinks.

The move, which has stirred up significant controversy, now puts soft drinks in the same category as alcohol and tobacco, which also require warning labels in advertisements.

The labels 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.” Any beverage with 25 calories per every 12 ounces would require the label, reports CNNMoney.

“Requiring health warnings on soda ads also makes clear that these drinks aren’t harmless — indeed, quite the opposite — and that the puppies, unicorns, and rainbows depicted in soda ads aren’t reality,” Supervisor Scott Wiener, one of the 11-member board that unanimously approved the measure, said in a statement. “These drinks are making people sick, and we need to make that clear to the public.”

The American Beverage Association, which represents the $141 billion beverage industry, issued a statement saying San Francisco’s board of supervisors want to “demonize beverages with false claims about health.”

“The San Francisco proposal is not intended to help consumers, nor will it impact public health,” the ABA said in a statement. “Instead it attempts only to frighten consumers by providing misleading labeling about products that are safe and can be part of a balanced diet.”

San Francisco proposed a tax on sugary soft drinks last year, which failed to pass ( a similar law did pass in neighboring Berkeley). And in New York City, former mayor Michael Bloomberg attempted to restrict the sale of large sodas and soft drinks because of their role in the city’s obesity epidemic.

According to Harold Goldstein, executive director of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, “one sugary drink per day can increase a child’s risk of becoming overweight by 60%, while adults with the same habit are 26% more likely to be overweight,” reports CNN.

The measure undergoes a final vote in San Francisco next week before heading to Mayor Ed Lee’s desk for approval. It will go into effect 30 days later.

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Girl sipping soda image via Shutterstock