San Francisco may become the first city in the United States to have health warnings on advertising for soda and other sugary drinks, the AP reports. City supervisors voted unanimously to approve the health warnings on Tuesday and — surprise! —the soda industry has already stated they may sue to block the ordinance.
The new label would 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 warning will appear on print advertising within city limits, like billboards, walls, taxis and buses. That leaves out ads in newspapers, over broadcast and on the Internet. Importantly, it also leaves out warnings on soda cans and bottles themselves, like we’ve seen on cigarette and alcohol packaging. Still, it’s a start!
Other proposals approved by SF city supervisors put additional restrictions on sugar drinks: The first bans city funds from being used to buy soda, while the second prohibits soda ads on city-owned property (which SF also does with tobacco and alcohol).
As the New York Times explained, affected drinks will include anything with 25 calories or more per 12 ounces “including sodas, sports drinks and iced teas.” So, good news, Diet Coke fans: your bevvie of choice will not be affected.
The next step is a second vote next week and finally, the bill will head to the mayor’s desk. (He has not taken a position on the bill.) If approved, the warning labels will begin rolling out this summer.
As we try hard to hammer home, drinking a can of soda — yes, even diet soda —is essentially like eating a candy bar. A 2015 study found that drinking diet soda increases belly fat, not to mention it erodes your tooth enamel and puts you at a high risk of stroke, heart attack or vascular death. With 32% of SF children and teens at overweight or obese levels (as of 2012, according to UCLA and the California Center for Public Health Advocacy) it’s no wonder the city is taking action.
SF is not the first city to regulate unhealthy foods and drinks: Berkeley, California, has a soda tax and South LA’s has a restriction on new fast-food restaurants.