Lawmaker tries again with bill requiring warning label on sugary drinks

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A state senator Wednesday renewed his effort to slap warnings on sugary drinks about the dangers of obesity, tooth decay and diabetes, reintroducing a bill that died last session.

Senator Bill Monning's (D-Carmel) legislation - SB 203 - would require warnings on sweetened drinks with more than 75 calories per 12 ounces.  

Under the bill, the warning label would read: "Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay." 

Last year the measure narrowly passed the Senate but died in the Assembly Committee on Health. Amid strong lobbying against the legislation by the soda industry, two Democrats on the committee voted against the bill and four abstained. 

Undeterred, Monning is trying again. His office notes that three-quarters of likely California voters would support a warning label bill, according to a 2014 Field poll.

"Given the rock solid scientific evidence showing the dangers of sugary beverages, the State of California has a responsibility to inform consumers about products proven to be harmful to the public’s health," Monning said in a statement. "This bill will give Californians the at-a-glance information they need to make more healthful choices every day."

Monning, who is also the Senate Majority Leader, likens the warning to those on alcohol and tobacco. The California Center for Public Health Advocacy, a co-sponsor of the legislation, released a fact sheet that points to a four-nation study published in 2006 which found that educating smokers through cigarette warning labels "was strongly associated with intentions to quit among smokers."  

The California Nevada Soft Drink Association opposed last year's version of the bill - SB 1000 - arguing that other sugary drinks were left out of the bill's purview.

Members of the assembly health committee who voted against SB 1000 or abstained said that they didn’t think the bill would improve public health, or that labels on some sugary beverages but not others would confuse consumers.