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Senate Approves Soda Warning Bill

The state Senate yesterday approved a bill that would require a label on soda and other sweetened beverages warning of the health risks of sugary drinks. The floor vote was tight, but the final 21-13 tally successfully nudged the legislation out the door and on to the Assembly.

SB 1000 by Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel) is intended, in part, to help address the diabetes epidemic in California, which is especially high among the state’s Latino population and among children. The warning label also would point out increased risk of obesity and tooth decay associated with sugary drinks.

“The status quo is not good enough,” Monning said during the Senate floor debate. “This is a vote for the public health of the people of California.”

Sen. Steve Knight (R-Palmdale) said it was a vote against a specific industry. He held up a small bag of peanuts to make his point.

“Now, in this little bag of peanuts, there are 10 different things in here. One of those is sodium,” Knight said. “If I take too much sodium I could die, but it’s not going to say on here that you shouldn’t do that.”

SB 1000 would single out the soda industry in California, and that’s unfair, Knight said.

“If we’re going to do that with sugary drinks,” he said, “are we going to do this with French fries, too?”

Painting this bill with a broad brush would be a mistake, according to Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima).  

“This is among the more important discussions we’ll have today,” Padilla said. “Clearly, it’s a very complex issue. The simple advice is to eat better and exercise more. … To be a realist, is this [bill] a silver bullet that will solve all of these issues? Probably not. But … the issue is much more complex than simple sound bites would suggest.”

“What we’re talking about is providing informed choice,” Monning said. “When a product has been proven to be a contributor to diabetes, obesity and tooth decay, it should be the right of consumers to know about it.”

KHN (Kaiser Health News) is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about health issues. Together with Policy Analysis and Polling, KHN is one of the three major operating programs at KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation). KFF is an endowed nonprofit organization providing information on health issues to the nation.

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