Simon Capewell (2014) BMJ 2014;348:g3428
California is considering health warnings on sugary drinks like those on cigarette packets. Simon Capewell thinks it’s a good idea that the public would support
The California Senate Appropriations Committee is deliberating a bill that would require drinks manufacturers to place the following warning label on all sweetened non-alcoholic drinks: “STATE OF CALIFORNIA SAFETY WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay.”
Under the Sugar Sweetened Beverages Safety Warning Act (the first of its kind in the United States) these labels would apply to any such drink that “has added caloric sweeteners and contains 75 calories or more per 12 fluid ounces.” It would also require vending machines to bear warning labels and would allow for fines of $50 (£30; €37) to $500 (£297; €365) for failed inspections.
This remarkable suggestion raises questions about precedents, public support, and the political feasibility of such a move, as well as about science, public health, industry tactics, and comprehensive health strategies.