June 18, 2014
Area(s) of Interest: Advocacy Public Health
Legislation that would have required sugar-sweetened beverages to bear a label warning consumers of their negative health effects failed to clear the Assembly Health committee yesterday.
Senate Bill 1000, California’s Sugary Drink Safety Warning Act, which the California Medical Association co-sponsored, would have placed a simple warning label on the front of all bottles and cans of sugary drinks sold in California. The label, developed by a national panel of nutrition and public health experts, would have read: STATE OF CALIFORNIA SAFETY WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay.
During Tuesday’s committee hearing, a long line of public health organizations, other health care providers, cities, counties and non-profit organizations joined CMA in supporting the measure. The beverage industry and affiliated business interests opposed. Members of the committee, some of who were open about the fact that the beverage industry had a major economic impact in their districts, questioned the effectiveness of the warning labels. Others however, noted that an overwhelming body of scientific evidence pointed toward sugar-sweetened beverages as a unique driver in the type 2 diabetes epidemic.
Although the bill passed out of the Senate earlier this month, it stalled in the Assembly Health Committee. The bill ultimately received seven votes, three shy of the 10 needed to pass.
While SB 1000’s defeat was a setback for public health advocates around California, its introduction, the first of its kind in the nation, significantly advanced the conversation around the negative health impacts associated with overconsumption of sugar. The bill had widespread, even international, media coverage that helped further educate the public about the risks associated with sugary drink consumption. Its successful passage through the California state Senate marked the first time legislative body recognized the need to inform consumers about the dangers associated with sugar-sweetened beverages through the use of a warning label.
CMA, along with SB 1000’s co-sponsors, remain committed to the health of Californians and will continue to find new and innovative ways to stem the tide of the ongoing diabetes and obesity epidemic.