Lawmakers Take Aim at Sugary Drinks with 5 New Bills

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SACRAMENTO -- Several state lawmakers are proposing a series of bills to restrict sugary drinks in California.

"We are here quite simply because we are in a public health crisis," said Assem. Rob Bonta, D-Oakland.

Bonta and a number of other assembly members and senators plan introduced five bills Wednesday that would not only tax soda and other sugary drinks, but also limit serving sizes, coupons and deals, as well as displays. One would also require sugary drinks to carry warning labels similar to cigarettes.

"And you can legally still buy sodas under any of the bills that were introduced today," Sen. Bill Monning, D-Carmel, said. "We're not taking them off the shelves, we’re saying, 'Informed choice.'"

The California Medical Association and California Dental Association both support the legislation.

"Sugar-sweetened beverages are the single largest source of added sugar in the diet of young people," said CMA Vice Chair Shannon Udvic-Constant.

Some of the tax money will go to education and offset health and economic costs associated with overconsumption of sugar, but lawmakers have not set a price on that tax yet.

Assemblyman Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica, says in the past he’s looked at around 2 cents per liquid ounce.

Kids and parents FOX40 spoke to at a South Sacramento gas station say they’re not so sure about these bills.

"It's up to a parent to say, 'Hey, that’s enough,'" parent Jay Marquez said.

Marquez says he allows his son the occasional ICEE. While he says he doesn't support the tax, he also says the cost wouldn't stop him from buying his son what he wants.

"When it comes to him, he gets a hundred (percent) at school, then I don’t care about the price," Marquez said.

Four of these bills are on the Assembly side while one is on the Senate side. If Senate Bill 347 becomes law, California would become the first state to require a warning label on sodas.

Here is how each bill breaks down:

AB 764 by Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) prohibits a soda company from offering a manufacturer’s coupon to their partnering manufacturer, distributor or retailer.

AB 765 by Assemblymember Buggy Wicks (D-Oakland) prohibits placement of sugar-sweetened beverages near the check-out counter at supermarkets, larger grocery stores, supercenters and warehouse clubs.

AB 766 by Assemblymember David Choi (D-San Francisco) bans the sale of unsealed beverages larger than 16 ounces at food service establishments, including restaurants with self-service soda fountains.

SB 347 by Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel) requires a warning label on sugar-sweetened beverages so consumers can make decisions that work best for them.

AB 138 by Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) creates a fee on sodas and other sugary beverages and uses the new revenue to offset health and economic costs associated with overconsumption of sugar.

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