Serving children soda has become a contentious issue in Davis, California

In the past week, the Davis City Council voted unanimously to ban the sale of soda to children, SF Gate reported Friday, May 29. The ordinance would mandate businesses and restaurants that serve food marketed towards kids (think Happy Meals) to offer only water or milk as refreshment options. Parents, however, can still order sodas and other sugary beverages for their children, but they won’t be given the option directly.

Under the new law, businesses will face fines from the city of Davis if employees don’t comply with the ordinance. This scrutiny on soft drinks like Coca-Cola and Pepsi, which are widely understood to contain excess amounts of sugar, is nothing new. Soda taxes are prevalent around the country and campaigns against soft drinks have become just another part of the national social discourse.

The law, which still needs a second vote to pass, is planned to go into effect on Sept. 1. But the city hasn’t seen any real pushback from residents. Julie Gallelo, who directs the commission that brought forth the project, said, “I think it just brings us all one step closer to an overall healthy children’s meal menu.” But is it fair for the government to tell merchants how to do business? One resident says the ordinance goes too far, infringing on the rights of businesses in Davis to run their businesses as they please.

“It’s just intrusive, I think,” said Davis resident Dorte Jensen. “Plus, it’s the choice of the restaurants how they want to do their business.”

Of course, it’s not a secret that sugar-filled soft drinks are unhealthy, especially for children. For Davis, the proposal is part of a larger picture of making the city a more health conscious locale. But is the city overstepping its authority or is it simply working for the best interests of its residents and visitors?

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