Baltimore is trying to add to its street cred as an agent of the nanny state by possibly requiring warning labels to be placed on all sweetened drinks. A vote on the measure takes place Tuesday.
Additionally, the measure would require the warnings to be placed on advertisements, restauarant menus, and posted in stores selling sweetened drinks.
Sugar Free Kids Maryland supports the measure, which was proposed by City Councilman Nick Mosby before he abandoned his campaign for mayor.
Here’s what Robi Rawl of Sugar Free Kids Maryland told WBAL:
Rawl told Maryland’s News This Week that the labels would help consumers make informed choices about buying the beverages, warning people that over consumption of the drinks may cause obesity, diabetes and other health problems.
Opposition to the proposal includes the Maryland Retailers Association, the Restaurant AssItociation of Maryland, and the Maryland-D.C.-Delaware Beverage association:
“At a time when Baltimore City is struggling to retain grocery stores and supermarkets this new mandate, which exists nowhere else in the nation, will have a chilling effect on attracting new merchants to the city,” said Cailey Locklair Tolle, president of the Maryland Retailers Association. “What proponents of this legislation cannot grasp is that the environment for retailers in the city is already fragile. It is shortsighted and takes the city in the wrong direction.”
Melvin Thompson, the Restaurant Association of Maryland’s senior vice president of government affairs and public policy, was equally critical saying: “We are concerned that this proposed legislation goes too far and will not only deter the formation of new businesses, such as restaurants, but send a negative message that will discourage people from eating, shopping and enjoying Baltimore City.”
“Forcing restaurants, grocery stores, convenience stores and vending machines to carry misleading and inaccurate warning signs about popular beverages such as lemonades, sweet teas, fruit juices, fruit drinks, sports drinks and soft drinks misses an opportunity to teach and lead with a right message – lifestyle choices matter; new government bans, restrictions or for that matter “warning labels” for lemonade don’t,” said Ellen Valentino, executive vice president, Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Beverage Association.
“The beverage industry has developed a number of real solutions that are having an impact and we are making sure there are dozens of options for everyone. Maryland beverage makers recognize that all calories count and are committed to helping consumers be more mindful of the beverage choices they make.”
Baltimore Not Alone
Michael Bloomberg tried to ban large sodas, and was shot down in court. DC tried to do the same and it never went anywhere. Mexico banned advertising for sodas and Connecticut Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro has proposed a tax on sugar by the teaspoon. Former County Executive Ken Ulman enacted a ban in Howard County that resulted in private vendors only being allowed to sell diet sodas at a 4th of July event. Thankfully, Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman repealed that ban upon taking office.
It’s good to see that Baltimore City has solved all the problems associated with rampant violence and urban blight that have been long-term problems. Now that they’ve fixed those they can move forward on the important things, like requiring labels on drinks with sugar added.