San Francisco To Treat Sugary Soda Like Cigarettes

San Francisco To Treat Sugary Soda Like Cigarettes

San Francisco looks set to become the first city in the nation to pass a law requiring health warnings on all advertisements for sugary drinks, effectively putting soda in the same category as alcohol and tobacco.

San Francisco's board of supervisors on Tuesday approved an ordinance requiring drink companies to place labels on advertisements for soda and other drinks which warn consumers that they contribute to obesity, tooth decay, and diabetes. The measure also bans advertising of sugary drinks on city-owned property while at the same time prohibiting city agencies from buying the beverages.

"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 said in a statement. "These drinks are making people sick, and we need to make that clear to the public."

The 11 member board unanimously approved the measure,

The labels are to 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."

The labels would be required for posters and billboards for any drink that has at least 25 calories per 12 ounces.

The ban does not require product packaging changes and would only apply to advertising within city limits.

This isn't the first attempt by the city to curb sugary soda consumption. Last year it proposed a tax on the drinks and while more than 50% of voters in the city backed the bill, it fell short of the 2/3 majority needed to pass.

The American Beverage Association, in statements reminiscent of big tobacco companies, issued a statement saying city officials 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."

Yet sugary drinks are the largest single source of excess calories in the average American diet, according to Harold Goldstein, executive director of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy.

Goldstein said just one sugary drink per day can increase a child's risk of becoming obese by 60%, while adults drinking one can per day are 26% more likely to be overweight.

The supervisors must now vote on the measure at a second meeting next week. If Mayor Ed Lee approves it, the law will take effect in 30 days from that meeting.

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