California Soda Scolds Push Unnecessary Warnings

130416_CCF_DumbCalifornia_picCalifornia anti-soda warriors are at it again. Following numerous failed attempts in recent years to tax and ban soda in in the Golden State, regulators are falling back on an old favorite: warning labels. A bill that requires sodas to carry warning labels passed the state senate’s health committee by a vote of 5-2 last week.

Apparently legislators are willing to ignore both voters and science in their ongoing crusade against soft drinks. California voters have consistently made it known that they do not want their soda regulated.  Last year, they opposed a  soda tax introduced by the same state senator, Bill Monning, who introduced this warning label bill. There is also scant research showing that soda causes obesity and diabetes. A new synthesis of the best research on sugar indicates that existing evidence tying sugar to obesity and diabetes is weak and based on unproven correlations.

The fact is, Californians already suffer from “warning fatigue,” inundated as they are with warning labels on everything from fishing rods to Christmas lights. This is largely due to the state’s Proposition 65, a misguided and overbroad piece of legislation that requires all products with supposed cancer-causing chemicals to carry warning labels. Loved by trial lawyers (who make a killing off lawsuits), and hated by everyone else, Prop 65 means that another warning label will simply get lost in the traffic and be ignored, which, let’s face it, all warning labels that don’t alert people to imminent danger are.

And, why the crusade against soda in particular? Americans only get 7 percent of their calories from soft drinks. Where are the warning labels on other foods that make up the majority of Californian’s caloric intake? Are warning labels on pizza next? Sadly, the answer is likely yes. Activists are beginning to set pizza in their sights as their next target. Or, why not warning labels on other drinks with just as much, or more, sugar as soda like, say, frappuccinos? Could it be because the elite legislators and bureaucrats actually drink those, while average people can only afford soda for their simple pleasures?

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