April 28, 2006

Connecticut approves ban on sodas in schools

HARTFORD, Connecticut (Reuters) - Connecticut's state
legislature voted on Thursday to ban sales of sodas and other
sugary beverages in state elementary, middle and high schools
as part of an effort to stem teen obesity.

Gov. Jodi Rell has pledged to sign the bill, which would
make Connecticut the fourth U.S. state with a strong law in
schools to trim the growing American teenage waistline.

The ban includes all regular and diet sodas, along with
"electrolyte replacement beverages" such as Gatorade. The only
drinks allowed to go on sale in schools would be bottled water,
milk or 100-percent fruit and vegetable drinks.

"The bill clearly won't solve all food and beverage
questions that lead to the increase in excess weight and
obesity that we are seeing among children and adults in our
society, but it's a good start," said state Rep. Andrew

A Northwestern University study released in December showed
more than one in three American adolescents are physically
unfit and have many of the risk factors for heart disease.

The Connecticut law, which will take effect from July, will
allow soda sales at concession stands at school-sponsored
events after school and on weekends. Students can also pack
their own sodas and sports drinks and bring them to school.

The House approved the bill on Thursday by a slim 76-to-71
vote margin largely on party lines in the Democrat-controlled
state Legislature. Last week it passed the Senate 24-to-8.

Republicans proposed multiple amendments that were all
voted down and said the issue should be left to local
communities and not decided by the state.

"This is a decision that should be decided at the local
level," Republican state Rep. David Labriola said during the
five hours of debate over the bill in the House. "That's what
our local boards of education are for."

Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc. are the two largest U.S.
soda companies. Officials at both companies were not
immediately available to comment.