San Francisco Officials Considering A Health Warning On Ads For Sodas, Sugary Drinks

Although a proposed tax on sodas and sugary drinks didn’t fly in San Francisco, officials are now mulling the idea of slapping a health warning on advertisements appearing within the city limits for sugary beverages.

The city’s Board of Supervisors is expected to vote today on measures that seek to put the brakes on soda drinking, with a “Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Warning Ordinance” that would require health warnings on billboards, walls, the sides of cabs and buses and any other advertisements in San Francisco, reports the Associated Press.

Such a move would make San Francisco the first place in the U.S. to require warnings on soda ads. The warnings wouldn’t pertain to soda cans, bottles or other packaging.

The label for ads 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.”

Some limited vintage signs are exempt, but otherwise retailers would have to carry warnings on advertising within stores as well. The ordinance would go into effect in a year, if approved.

“This is a very important step forward in terms of setting strong public policy around the need to reduce consumption of sugary drinks; they are making people sick, they’re helping fuel the explosion of Type 2 diabetes and other health problems in adults and in children,” says Scott Wiener, one of three San Francisco supervisors pushing the legislation.

But opponents are already lining up against it, including CalBev, the state’s beverage association.

“It’s unfortunate the Board of Supervisors is choosing the politically expedient route of scapegoating instead of finding a genuine and comprehensive solution to the complex issues of obesity and diabetes,” a spokesman told the AP.

A spokesman for a company that has about 300 billboards and wall spaces says it isn’t fair just to focus on that medium while exempting newspapers and magazines.

“It’s all these people who are telling me how to live my life and raise my children. I make that decision, not a bunch of elected officials,” he says. “Let’s fix the homeless issue, let’s fix potholes before you start telling me how to live my life.”

Two other proposals before the supervisors would prohibit soda ads on city-owned property, while another would prohibit city funds from being used to buy soda. Mayor Ed Lee hasn’t said how he stands on the three proposals but said through a spokeswoman that he’s open to educating people through warning labels on ads.

San Francisco Considers Health Warning on Soda Advertising [Associated Press]