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Soft drink ban

UNITED STATES. California lawmakers have passed America's most far-reaching ban yet on soft drinks in schools. They have been banned from every secondary school in the US's most-populous state, in addition to the ban in primaries since 2003.

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.

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