California bill to require warning labels on sugary drinks dies

SACRAMENTO Calif. (Reuters) - A California bill to require sugary soft drinks to carry labels warning of obesity, diabetes and tooth decay died in the Legislature on Tuesday, the latest in a string of defeats for health advocates trying to dissuade people from drinking soda.

“I remain committed to pursuing this issue and being part of a broad public health campaign to educate communities about the proven health risks of sugary drinks,” said Democratic Senator Bill Monning, who failed last year to pass a measure enacting a tax on the drinks.

“Protecting the public’s health from the adverse effects of these products will help combat the diabetes and obesity epidemics in California,” he said.

Monning’s measure passed the state Senate in May, but failed on Tuesday in the Assembly’s health committee.

Efforts to curtail consumption of sugary drinks through taxes and other efforts have met fierce resistance from the U.S. food and beverage industry, which opposed both Monning bills.

Public health advocates across the country have clamored for ways to reduce consumption of sugary drinks and junk food, but lawmakers and voters have generally opposed enacting taxes or other regulations.

Two California cities, Richmond and El Monte, failed two years ago in their attempts to become the first in the country to impose taxes of a penny an ounce on businesses that sell sugary drinks.

In late May, lawmakers in Illinois rejected a measure that would have taxed soda, and an effort by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to ban the largest sugary drink sizes was overturned by a state judge.

Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Peter Cooney