California Soda Warning Label Bill Thwarted Again in Senate



California, New York, and Baltimore are all attempting to pass legislation that will require sugar-sweetened beverages to display a label that warns consumers about the risks of diabetes, obesity, and tooth decay that added sugars cause. Unfortunately, on January 12th California senate failed to pass SB-203 , which would have required all drinks with 75 calories or more per 12 fluid ounces to carry such a warning, despite mounting evidence that a majority of voters support this mandate.

Nearly four out of five registered California voters want these labels according to a January 2016 Field Poll. Supporters overwhelmingly backed their votes with their belief in a consumer’s right to know about the unique health problems associated with sugary drinks. The poll also found that most Californians are unable to quickly identify healthy and unhealthy beverages without the help of a warning label. This is no surprise, considering the myriad of unsubstantiated health claims on beverages like Vitamin Water, or packaging that suggests health by showing pictures of fruit when fruit was not even remotely involved in the production of the beverage.

So what happened to SB-203?

Four senators voted for the bill

  • Bill Monning (D-Carmel, and SB203’s author)
  • Richard Pan (D-Sacramento)
  • Holly J Mitchell (D-Los Angeles)
  • Lois Wolk (D-Davis)

One voted against it

  • Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber)

And four abstained

  • Janet Nguyen (R-Garden Grove)
  • Isadore Hall (D-Compton)
  • Richard D Roth (D-Riverside)
  • Health Committee Chair, Senator Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina)

Healthy & Active Before 5 supports labeling sugar-sweetened beverages, and we’re joined in disappointment by SB-203 sponsors California Center for Public Health Advocacy, the Health Officers Association of California, California Black Health Network, and Latino Health Access. Thankfully Senator Monning doesn’t plan to back away from the fight against preventable disease:


“While I am disappointed about the outcome of SB 203, this will not deter me from my fight against the leading contributor of diabetes and other chronic illnesses. The scientific evidence of the proven adverse health impacts of sugar-sweetened beverages demands a health warning label, and it is only a matter of time before California enacts legislation that informs individuals about healthful beverage choices.”

We hope you keep trying, Senator Monning. We’re standing behind you.

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