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Californians support tax on sugary drinks

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Evidence exists that the tax on tobacco products serves as a deterrent to smoking; thus, many healthcare analysts feel that a similar tax on sugary beverages would reduce their consumption and help curb the current obesity epidemic. On June 5, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health released the results of a survey that found that a large majority of California residents support a tax on sugary beverages and restricting junk food advertisements aimed at children. The respondents felt that those moves would help curb the obesity rate in the state.

The results of the study fuel the controversy between healthcare advocates and the beverage industry. The beverage industry maintains that the tax will increase food prices while healthcare advocates claim that the tax and advertising restrictions would lower the rate of obesity and diabetes in the state. However, according to the health department report, almost two-thirds of individuals surveyed by Los Angeles County in a comprehensive 2011 assessment of public attitudes toward health issues, responded that they supported a soda tax, and three-quarters wer in favor of favored limiting junk food advertising.

The report falls on the heels of legislative action to require labeling of sugary beverages that would have health consequences. On May 29, legislation to raise awareness of the harmful effects of drinking sugary benefits, SB 1000, the Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Safety Warning Act, was passed by the California Senate. After passing by a 21 to 13 vote, the bill will be assessed by the State Assembly. The bill is the first of its kind in the nation; it is designed to help curb soaring diabetes rates by placing a simple warning label on the front of all bottles and cans of sugary drinks sold in California.

The bill was introduced last February by Senator Bill Monning (D-Carmel), in partnership with health advocates, community groups, and physicians. It will apprise all Californians of the science supporting the harmful effects of consuming these beverages. The label, which was developed by a national panel of nutrition and public health experts, would read: STATE OF CALIFORNIA SAFETY WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay.

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