"Obesity is the most significant public health threat facing this nation," said Sen. Debra Ortiz, D-Sacramento, the author of the ban. "Childhood obesity is a crisis in California and thus far the state has failed to respond."
But a spokesman for the soft-drink industry, Bob Achermann, executive director of the California Nevada Soft Drink Association, said sodas shouldn't be singled out for blame for overweight students.
"It's a much bigger problem," he said. "It's an issue of moderation in diet and appropriate diet and the need for physical activity."
He suggested that if schools ban soft drinks, students who want them will bring them from home or go off campus to buy them.
"This is about responding to what consumers want. Those beverage choices should be available."
Ortiz's bill, which was sent to the Assembly by a 22-15 vote, would ban the sale of carbonated drinks to elementary and middle school students beginning Sept. 1, 2005. The prohibition would kick in for high schools the following Sept. 1.
In place of soda, schools could sell students milk, bottled water, fruit juice and fruit-based drinks that are at least half fruit juice and have no added sweeteners.
Middle schools and high schools could also offer students sports drinks that replace electrolytes and contain no more than 42 grams of added sweeteners per 20 ounces of fluid.
The bill would allow the sales of sodas more than a half hour before or after school at, for instance, school athletic events or to help student fund-raising campaigns.
According to the legislation, an average of 30 percent of California children are overweight. In some school districts, as many as half of the students have weight problems.
Daily servings of sugar-sweetened soft drinks increase a child's chances of becoming obese by 60 percent, according to statistics cited by the bill.
Current 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, money that isn't likely to be appropriated because of the state's budget crisis.
Ortiz's legislation isn't contingent on the additional funding.
Sen. Tom Torlakson, D-Martinez, said soft drink companies could make up for any loss of revenue by selling bottled water or fruit juices to schools.
Here's the kicker, which moves this from inanity to insanity:
CA high schools (and I think maybe junior highs, but I'm not sure) provide condoms, under the theory that the high schoolers are adult enough to make that decision, and will anyway. I agree with that, by the way.
A student can pick up a condom no problem. But if that same student wishes a post-coital coke, he'll have to go elsewhere.
Does this make sense on any level?
EDIT: Because, somehow a coke became a cancer stick...
Edited by Javert Rovinski, 03 June 2003 - 10:24 AM.