Warning Labels

Everyone has a right to know how sugary drinks affect health. Warning labels are a low-cost, effective, and simple way to get the word out. Beverage companies spend close to a billion dollars every year to convince us, and especially our children, to drink these beverages. But they don’t warn us of the risks.

Requiring beverage companies to put a simple statement on cans, bottles, and dispensers of sugary drinks and on menus and ads that promote them, will alert consumers to the risks of consuming sugary drinks, and may discourage parents from buying them for their kids.

In addition, further public discussion about sugary drinks and policy actions to reduce their availability, affordability and appeal. This should encourage consumers to shift to more healthful beverages, and away from sugary ones.

Communities taking action

Cities and states across the country are considering policies to require these warning labels at both state and local levels.

Statewide: Several states legislatures have seen movement on warning label legislation in recent sessions, including California, Hawaii, New York, Oregon, Vermont and Washington.


San Francisco in 2015 became the first U.S. jurisdiction to pass a warning label bill. It requires labels on outdoor advertising. The American Beverage Association (ABA) immediately sued to block implementation. However, a federal District Judge dismissed industry arguments and concluded the City’s mandated warning is factual and accurate; moreover, warning that sugary drinks contribute to tooth decay, obesity and diabetes is reasonably related to the City’s interest in public health and safety.

In Baltimore, the City Council held a hearing on a proposed warning label ordinance in June, 2016. Healthy Food America provided testimony.

For more on warning labels:

  • Kick the Can has a compilation of example policies and resources.
  • Model warning label legislation, from ChangeLab Solutions
  • Contact us for more information and resources on warning labels as a tool for keeping the public informed about of the dangers associated with sugary drinks.

Download Healthy Food America's Policy Snapshot: Sugary Drink Warning Labels

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