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The Christian Science Monitor reports that the California legislature is expected to easily pass a bill that will eliminate “access to certain drinks and snacks sold in vending machines and school stores.” This bill is then expected to be signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the bodybuilder-turned-actor-turned-politician who has said he supports it.

The law is said to be the first of its kind, far stronger than versions considered in other states.

The Los Angeles Times writes this morning that “the new regulations on food set limits on the fat and sugar content of meals and snacks sold on campus during school hours. Once signed by the governor, they will go into effect on July 1, 2007. The beverage rules, which basically prohibit the sale of sodas during school hours, go into effect two years later.

“The measures, however, allow junk food and soda to be sold at off campus and evening events including football games, dances and club meetings. They do not apply to foods that students bring from home, or to food that is given away, such as cake and punch at a school party. And nothing in the bills will prevent high school students on open campuses from strolling to McDonald's or Burger King for lunch.”

Since state elementary and middle schools have already banned the sale of sodas, the new beverage legislation would affect only high schools.

"Elected officials are supporting parents in protecting their children from the unrestrained marketing and ever-present availability of soda and junk food," Dr. Harold Goldstein, director of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, told the Monitor. "California [schools] can no longer be soda and junk-food superstores."

The American Beverage Association (ABA), which has spearheaded a voluntary series of restrictions on soft drink sales in elementary and middle schools in the hope of heading off just such a law, characterized it as “well-intentioned” but “unfortunate.”

While proponents of the legislation say they believe it will help fight the obesity epidemic in America, opponents say it will do no such thing.
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