Calif. Lawmakers OK Soda Ban in Schools
By STEVE LAWRENCE, Associated Press Writer
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -
Worrying about the health of California children,
the state Assembly voted to ban soda sales to elementary school students
and restrict sales of the drinks at junior high schools.
If passed by the Senate and signed by the governor,
the bill approved Thursday would make California the first state to adopt
a soda ban, said Harold Goldstein, executive director of the California Center
for Public Health Advocacy, a nonprofit organization that supports the bill.
The Assembly approved a bill by Democratic
state Sen. Deborah Ortiz that would allow elementary schools to serve students
only milk, water and juice drinks that are at least half fruit and have no
added sweeteners. Junior highs and middle schools could offer those beverages
and electrolyte-replacing sports drinks during school hours.
"Many of our young people just have too much sugar per day," said Democratic state Assemblywoman Wilma Chan.
The bill wouldn't stop students from bringing
sodas to school from home, or stop sodas from being sold at after- and before-school
events at junior high and middle schools.
Republican state Assemblyman Tony Strickland said lawmakers shouldn't try to impose their judgments on school boards.
"If you think this is such a bad product I
encourage you not to bring sodas on the floor and drink them on the floor,
because once again you're not willing to live with the laws you create,"
he told his colleagues.
Current California law includes a ban on sodas
at elementary and middle schools that's scheduled to take effect Jan. 1.
But that prohibition won't kick in unless the schools get additional state
funding for nutrition programs, and that money hasn't been appropriated.
According to Goldstein's organization, more
than 26 percent of California children are overweight. The American Academy
of Pediatrics cites poor diet, including consumption of sugary carbonated
beverages, as a main reason for the increasing number of obese children.
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