Just about everything in California has one of those little labels saying it may give you cancer, make you fat, or cause other difficulties. San Francisco is going one step further, requiring warnings on advertisements for sugary drinks.
“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 idea, of course, is to slow the rise of obesity and related diseases like diabetes and heart disease. The beverage industry objected and went to court to block the law, but it failed. Now the measure is set to go into effect July 25.
The soft drink makers argued that the law violates their free speech rights, but U.S. District Judge Edward Chen Tuesday denied a request for an injunction, saying the soda barons were unlikely to prevail in court.
The warnings won't appear on soda cans but must cover 20 percent of the area of any ad for sugary drinks that appear on billboards, posters, walls, bus shelters, and transit vehicles. Newspapers and magazines aren't included.
Other government agencies have tried to curb Americans' thirst for sugary drinks, most notably New York City which tried to outlaw the sale of sugary drinks in containers larger than 16 ounces. A state court struck down the law in 2014, saying the city had exceeded its authority.
Phildealphia is currently considering a tax of three cents per ounce on drinks with added sugar and several states are considering requiring warning labels, although none of the efforts appear likely to be implemented anytime soon.
Such draconian measures may not be necessary. It was reported in March that U.S. soda consumption was at its lowest level since 1985.
"Drinking nine or 10 teaspoons of sugar makes no sense, and most Americans have wised up to what’s really in a single soda,” said Michael F. Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public Interest when the figures were released.
It's not quite clear what Americans are drinking instead. Giant sugary coffee drinks maybe?