San Francisco's Law Targeting Sugary Sodas May Mean Trouble for Starbucks

San Francisco's Law Targeting Sugary Sodas May Mean Trouble for Starbucks

Starbucks Frappuccino

Image credit: Elliott Brown | Flickr

Starbucks is getting dragged into San Francisco's battle against sugary beverages.

The city's board of supervisors is in the process of approving a law that will require health warning on advertisements for sodas and other sugary drinks – including, reports Bloomberg, Starbucks' Frappuccinos. The board tentatively approved the warning labels last Tuesday, with a final vote set for tomorrow, after which the bill will be passed on to the mayor.

Just as cigarette ads now warn customers about risks associated with the products, if the bill passes, sugary beverages will be forced to include warnings that drinking beverages with added sugar contributes to obesity, diabetes and tooth decay. A venti crème Frappuccino can easily clock in at more than 400 calories, with more than 80 grams of sugar. Even a more moderately sized 12 oz. Frappuccino often packs in more sugar and calories than a 140 calorie, 12 oz. can of Coca-Cola.

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"This legislation is the first time any government has required health warnings for sugary drinks," supervisor Scott Wiener, the bill's sponsor, wrote on Facebook. "We have an obligation to try to reduce consumption to make our community healthier. This legislation moves us in that directions."

The law's opponents argue that the beverage industry is being unfairly singled out, as companies and restaurants selling sugary desserts are allowed to run unmarked advertising. If passed, the bill would require San Francisco Starbucks locations to adjust signs and advertising featuring Frappuccinos to include the warnings.

The most recent legislation follows in a long list of laws attempting to reduce consumption of sugary drinks in San Francisco, with mixed success. In November, San Francisco voters rejected a ballot measure that would tax soda and other sugary drinks, though nearby Berkley passed a similar tax (which applies to syrups used at Starbucks and other cafes in blended drinks). The board of supervisors has also been working to pass bills prohibiting advertising sugar-sweetened beverages on city property, barring the use of city funds to purchase sugary drinks and supporting a state bill to require health warning labels on all sugary beverages. 

Related: Deep-Fried Starbucks Coffee Is on the Menu at Fairs This Summer

Edition: October 2016

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