Legislation introduced by Supervisor Scott Wiener and Malia Cohen will make San Francisco the first jurisdiction to require health warnings on soda advertisements and to ban soda advertisements on publicly owned property. Supervisor Eric Mar’s legislation will prohibit city spending on sodas and sugary beverages



San Francisco, CA – Today, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed legislation that will target advertising of sodas, by requiring health warnings on posted ads in San Francisco and banning ads on publicly owned property, and by prohibiting the use of city funds for the purchase of sugary beverages. The health warning legislation sponsored by Supervisor Wiener would make San Francisco the first jurisdiction in the nation to require health warnings in connection with sugar-sweetened beverages. The legislation banning advertisements on public property, sponsored by Supervisor Cohen, would make San Francisco the first city to take this action.

“Today, San Francisco has sent a clear message that we need to do more to protect our community’s health,” said Supervisor Wiener. “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.  These drinks are making people sick, and we need to make that clear to the public. All three pieces of legislation passed today will improve the health of our community.”

“This prohibition on advertisements for sugar sweetened beverages will align our City’s policies closer with our existing public health goals,” said Supervisor Malia Cohen. “Our residents, particularly our youth, deserve to be in an environment where residents are exposed to messages and advertisements that promote health, not harmful substances.”

The details of the three pieces of legislation are as follows:

  • Supervisor Wiener’s legislation requiring health warnings on all posted advertisements for sugar-sweetened beverages with 25 or more calories per 12 ounces. The warning will read the following “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 size of the warnings will be at least 20% of the ad space, which is the standard required by the FDA on tobacco warnings. The warnings will only apply to advertisements posted after the effective date of the legislation.
  • Supervisor Cohen’s legislation will prohibit the placement of advertisements for sodas and sugar-sweetened beverages on city owned property. Currently, tobacco and alcohol advertisements are subject to this prohibition. There will be an exception for permitted events in public spaces, like Outside Lands in Golden Gate Park, where the permit and lease can grant separate rules.
  • Supervisor Mar's legislation bans the use of city funds, whether by city departments or city contractor, on the purchase of sodas and other sugar-sweetened beverages.

The City’s independent Budget and Legislative Analyst Office has placed the financial impact of sugary drinks at over $50 million costs even when only considering diabetes and obesity. Without action, one in three of today’s children will develop diabetes in their lifetime, and among African American and Latino youth, half will develop diabetes.

In November 2014, voters 56% of the voters in San Francisco voted in favor of two penny per ounce tax on sodas and other sugary beverages distributed in San Francisco. While this easily broke the 50% threshold required of a general tax, because the 2014 tax dedicated funding to specific health and nutrition programming, it was a special tax, which required a 2/3 majority to pass.  This strong showing was in spite of the $10 million in spending against it by the soda industry.  In other words, a majority of voters recognized the importance of taking action on this important public health issue.

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