During school hours, schools will only be able to stock milk, drinks with at least 50 per cent fruit or vegetable content and bottled water under the anti-obesity legislation, which awaits California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's signature. Schwarzenegger has pledged his support.
The soft drink ban represents a breakthrough victory against the powerful US beverage industry, which recently successfully lobbied against similar action in Connecticut.
Facing a legislative offensive to oust soft drinks from US schools, the industry association, the American Beverage Association, is pushing self-regulation, agreeing to limit soft drinks to half the selections in secondary school vending machines.
Secondary schools, offering access to brand-conscious teenagers, represent a highly strategic market for companies like Coca-Cola and Pepsi, which pay schools handsomely to accommodate the vending machines.