LA Times: CA Senate approves requiring health labels on sugary drinks

May 29, 2014, 3:57 PM

By: Patrick McGreevy

The state Senate on Thursday approved a measure that would require companies selling sugary drinks, including sodas, in California to include a health label warning that sugar contributes to obesity, diabetes and tooth decay.

Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel) introduced the measure because of a spike in health problems involving consumption of too much sugar.

“Friends, we face an obesity and diabetic epidemic in the United States,” Monning told his colleagues. “Sugar-sweetened beverages represent the single largest contributor to the diabetes epidemic.”

He said healthcare for people with diabetes and obesity costs the state billions of dollars.

But, Republican senators opposed SB 1000, saying it unfairly punishes one kind of business when others also contribute to health problems.

“What we are doing here is singling out one industry and saying ‘these things don’t kill you, but if you drink too many of these you are going to have health problems,'” said Sen. Steve Knight (R-Palmdale). He held up a packet of peanuts and said if he eats too much sodium, it could also cause health problems.

“Anything taken to excess can hurt you,” Knight said.

The bill, which was sent to the Assembly for consideration was opposed by the California-Nevada Soft Drink Assn. “Putting government warning labels on more than 500 beverages will do nothing to change personal behaviors or teach people about healthy lifestyles,” the association said in a statement after the vote. “The last thing California needs is more warning labels.”