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California State Legislators Abandon Ban on ‘Big Gulp’-Style Sodas — for Now

Dr. Pepper soda cans are for sale at a grocery store in Pasadena, Calif., February 14, 2018. (Mario Anzuoni/Reuters)

Californians who love “Big Gulp”-style sodas can rest easy for the moment — the state legislature will not outlaw the oversize drinks just yet.

On Wednesday, Assemblyman David Chiu, a Democrat from San Francisco who sponsored a provision to ban the large sodas, pulled the proposal from a legislative package aimed at combating obesity amid opposition from businesses and trade groups including the 7-Eleven corporation, the American Beverage Association, and the California Retailers Association.

The measure, AB766, would have prohibited restaurants and stores from selling sugary drinks in unsealed containers that hold over 16 fluid ounces.

“Make no mistake, the disease and suffering created by sugar-sweetened beverages is one of the most pressing public-health issues of our time and must be addressed,” Chiu said. “Truly resolving this issue will be a multi-year conversation, and I look forward to the conversation.”

Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks also pulled from committee consideration her related proposal to ban displaying sugary drinks near store checkouts.

“Bold bills taking on Big Soda are never easy wins,” the Oakland Democrat said.

“We remain committed to working with the Legislature on effective ways to address its budgetary and public-health concerns and to ensure that food and beverages remain affordable for all Californians,” said a spokesman for the American Beverage Association, which represents companies that sell the sugary sodas.

Under pressure from the beverage industry, California banned cities last year from passing new taxes on sugary beverages until 2031.

A similar ban on large sodas in New York City was repealed in summer 2015 after the state’s highest court ruled that the city had overstepped its authority in adopting the ban.

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