The California state legislature passed a bill this week requiring restaurants to make the default drinks for kids’ menus either water or milk.
According to the text of S.B. 1192:
“This bill would require a restaurant, as defined, that sells a children’s meal that includes a beverage, to make the default beverage water, sparkling water, or flavored water, as specified, or unflavored milk or a nondairy milk alternative, as specified. The bill would not prohibit a restaurant’s ability to sell, or a customer’s ability to purchase, an alternative beverage if the purchaser requests one.”
The bill does not prohibit restaurants from selling other drinks to children, but it forces them to offer water or milk first. The penalties are as follows:
“The bill would make a violation of its provisions an infraction, but would make the first violation subject to a notice of violation. Under the bill, the 2nd and 3rd violations would be punishable by fines of not more than $250 and $500, respectively. By imposing additional duties on local enforcement agencies and by creating a new crime, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.”
Lawmakers say the new law is intended to help combat childhood obesity in the state, but not all parents are convinced. “It’s a good idea, but ultimately it’s up to the parents,” one California mother told CBS News.
“Cancer is fought in the halls of government, not just in the halls of the hospital,” said Stephanie Winn of the American Cancer Society, which supports the bill.
“Some of these kids are drinking up to three sodas a day. This is setting them up for tremendous cancer risks down the road. Because now we know that 20 percent of all cancers are tied to being overweight,” she said.
Some lawmakers objected.
“Seriously, like, what’s next?” asked Assemblyman Matthew Harper, R-Huntington Beach. “Are we going to insist that you have to have kale in your salad unless you specifically ask otherwise?”
Nevertheless, the bill, which was introduced in the Senate by majority leader Sen. Bill Monning, was just passed by the Assembly. It will return to the Senate for one more vote before it is sent to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk. The bill passed easily in both houses.