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Strategic Alliance Rapid Response: August 5, 2013

Media coverage of soda battle offers advocates a chance to push for policy change

As we all know, New York City’s soda cap hit another roadblock last week when a New York appeals court upheld an earlier ruling striking down the regulation. The battle drew lots of media attention, and the coverage and commentary provides advocates an opportunity to make some points about the important of these efforts.

At its core, New York’s move to limit the size of sugar-sweetened beverages is an innovative local effort to curb the onslaught of junk-food marketing and consumption. Like the early days of tobacco control, cities and counties across the country are the testing grounds where new policies can be developed that help  fuel a national effort for healthier  food and beverage policies.

As this story unfolds, we encourage advocates to speak up for innovative local solutions and community prevention strategies that protect the health of children and families.  

Here are some of the news stories covering the court ruling and debate:

Here are some ways you can take action:
•    Submit an online comment or letter to the editor on stories or commentaries in your local media (See Strategic Alliance's tips for penning a letter to the editor or op-ed).
•    Browse our online media advocacy tools to help you make the case for the importance of policies that protect health.
•    Connect with Strategic Alliance on Twitter (@Strat_Alliance) to share your efforts with us and get more updates on this issue.

Here’s a link to some comments Prevention Institute’s Larry Cohen made about this issue last week that may help you formulate your own points:

•    “Industry should not have carte blanche to sell products that make us ill. There is clear and convincing evidence that sugary beverages are detrimental to people’s health. New York’s effort to impose a reasonable limit on the size of sodas follows a long, proud history of using policy to protect health and individuals…Communities must have the right to protect themselves from the excesses of companies that put profit before health.”

And here are some other talking points to broaden the frame and discussion of this issue:

•    Local policy has a vital role to play in promoting health. Communities want the ability to make decisions for themselves. Communities know best the challenges they face, and need the space to design and implement local solutions to build health in the ways they know will work best.
•    The research affirms it: addressing sugary beverages makes sense. A growing body of evidence demonstrates that sugar-sweetened beverages are among the largest contributors to the chronic disease epidemic. These beverages accounted for 43% of the increase in daily calories consumed between 1977 and 2001, and continue to be the largest source of added sugar in the average American’s diet.
•    Public health has a long, proud history of using policy to protect health and individuals. Tobacco policies, seat belt laws, and the regulation of lead in paint were controversial when first introduced, but today, there a given. We know sugary beverages are detrimental to health and size limits are a small step to create shifts in norms.

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