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San Francisco mandates warnings in ads showing soft drinks

San Francisco lawmakers unanimously voted on Tuesday to put warning labels on all advertisements for sugary beverages in the City by the Bay. This first-in-the-nation law is set to go into effect this summer, which means billboards or taxi-cab ads for Coke or Gatorade will soon bear this message:

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.

The new law, which the mayor has 10 days to sign or veto before it automatically goes into effect, was passed as part of a package aimed at curtailing locals’ consumption of high-calorie drinks linked to health problems such as weight gain and diabetes. The city’s board of supervisors also voted to ban advertisements for sugary drinks on publicly owned property—such as bus stops—and to prohibit the use of city funds for purchasing sugary drinks.

“Today, San Francisco has sent a clear message that we need to do more to protect our community’s health,” Supervisor Scott Wiener, who proposed the warning label, said in a statement. “These health warnings will help provide people information they need to make informed decisions about what beverages they consume. Requiring health warnings on soda ads also makes clear that these drinks aren’t harmless — indeed, quite the opposite — and that the puppies, unicorns, and rainbows depicted in soda ads aren’t reality.”

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