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California Lawmakers Introduce Series of Bills in Effort to Reduce Soda Consumption

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A group of California Assemblymembers are trying to reduce obesity and diabetes rates

Cold soda iced drink in a glasses
Vintage Tone via Shutterstock
Mona Holmes is a reporter for Eater Los Angeles and a regular contributor to KCRW radio. She has covered restaurants, dining, and food culture since 2016. In 2022, the James Beard Foundation nominated her for a Jonathan Gold Local Voice Award.

California legislators are ramping up a new battle with the soda industry by introducing a new group of bills this week. These proposed laws are designed to limit the consumption of soft drinks throughout the state. These could change what is offered in LA restaurants by instituting a ban of large-sized sodas, new health label warnings, and a restriction on low-priced promotions for soft drinks.

This is a bold move by California Democrats, and leading the charge are Assemblymembers Richard Bloom from Santa Monica, along with Rob Bonta, David Chiu, and Buffy Wicks from the Bay Area. According to Assemblyman Chiu’s Twitter feed, the group wants to aggressively combat the state’s increasing obesity and diabetes rates with the following goal, “To reduce the consumption of sugary drinks and help Californians, especially our youngest, live healthier and longer lives.”

Assemblyman Bloom introduced Assembly Bill 138 which includes a beverage fee on sugar-sweetened beverages. In this bill, the gathered revenue would be used to address the diabetes and obesity epidemic in California, though exactly how they would do that is unclear.

Assemblyman Chiu introduced a bill that would institute a 16-ounce limit on fountain drinks, citing that one in four Californians are obese. Chiu stated that today’s average single soda serving is 20 ounces, but the average serving was 6.5 ounces in 1999. Restaurants with self-service soda fountains will feel the biggest impact from this measure.

Assemblymember Rob Bonta laid out Assembly Bill 764, which would ban companies from offering any promotional incentive for all sugar-sweetened beverages. Assemblywoman Wicks’ proposal, Assembly Bill 765, would ban stores from stocking sugar-sweetened beverages at checkout aisles.

These new bills are a familiar ring with last year’s Senate Bill 1192. The bill became law on January 1, which limits restaurants from serving sugary drinks to kids, and mandated eateries to offer milk or water before soft drinks. Some view these soda bills as retaliation, as the California legislature approved a 12-year ban for any California city or county introducing taxes on soda in early 2018.