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Santa Monica Lawmaker Seeks Tax on Sugary Drinks  

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

By Lookout Staff

May 8, 2015 -- A bill by Santa Monica-area state Assemblyman Richard Bloom would raise $3 billion a year to fight diabetes and heart disease by putting a 2-cent-per-ounce tax on sodas and other sugary beverages.

The bill -- which is scheduled to be heard by the Assembly Health Committee on Tuesday -- would create the “Children’s and Family Health Promotion Program” to prevent and treat obesity, diabetes and heart and dental disease, conditions that can be caused by drinking too many sweetened drinks, said Bloom, D-Santa Monica.

More needs to be done to counteract the marketing of sugary drinks to children by the beverage industry, said Bloom.

“The beverage industry is marketing larger-sized bottles and fountain drinks. They are using larger and larger cups, especially when marketing to children,” he said at a news conference.

In announcing the introduction of AB-1357 in the Assembly on Monday, Bloom was joined by officials from the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California and the American Heart Association.

According to the National Diabetes Education Program, diabetes is at epidemic levels in the Latino community, affecting 10 percent of Latinos 20 and older.

“We are tired of burying our family members from Type 2 diabetes,” said Xavier Morales, executive director of the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California. “It is a tragedy that this disease is so prevalent in our community that many Latinos now believe that getting diabetes is normal.”

California needs a “sustained funding source for diabetes prevention,” Morales said, adding that efforts should be made to target communities with the highest diabetes rates.

Residents of low-income communities in particular face daily barriers to being healthy, Bloom said, adding that his legislation would provide communities with tools that promote healthy living.

Kathy Rogers, executive vice president of the American Heart Association’s Western States Affiliate, said sugar-sweetened drinks are the No. 1 cause of obesity in the state.

“For example, a Super Big Gulp, which is 44 ounces, has approximately 523 calories and the equivalent of 35 teaspoons of sugar,” said Rogers. “That's nearly six times what the American Heart Association recommends for most women in one day. We should aim to protect the health of our children and families.”

A statewide coalition of health organizations is backing Bloom’s bill.


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