Should Sodas Come with Warning Labels?

A new law in California argues yes. Tell us what you think!

February 14, 2014


The food industry has managed to defy every effort put restrictions on the sales of sodas and other sugary drinks, whether through soda taxes or "Big Gulp bans," like the one proposed last year by former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.


So it will be interesting to see how sodas fare in the latest effort to discourage people from buying them: a new law introduced into the California state legislature to require warning labels on drinks with added sugar.

SB100, the "Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Safety Warning Act," would require bottled beverages with added sugars and fountain machines that dispense them to bear warning labels that say "STATE OF CALIFORNIA SAFETY WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay." If passed, the bill states that drink manufacturers would have to apply the labels beginning in July 2015. And it would include sodas, energy drinks, bottled teas, juices, flavored water and any other drink that includes added sugars.

According to the bill, obesity costs the state of California $52 billion annually in health care costs and lost productivity. Nationally, the cost is $147 billion, half of which is covered by taxpayers through Medicare and Medicaid funding.

State Senator Bill Monning, who introduced the bill, told the news service California Healthline, that he wants to provide consumers with the information they need to make informed decisions about what they're drinking. The American Beverage Association, a leading lobbyist against soda taxes, has long pushed the idea that the most effective way to curb obesity is education, not taxes. "So we're taking them up on that," Monning told the news agency.

As with any new law, it could take months, and possibly years, to decide the issue. But most legislation that takes effect in California becomes de facto national law, because of the state's size and economic influence; it serves has home to 20 percent of the U.S. population.