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CALIFORNIA

Sugary drinks still on L.A. County's menu

Supervisors oppose considering a ban on such beverages, but pass other health initiatives.

November 18, 2009|Garrett Therolf

In an effort to strengthen their bid for as much as $40 million in federal stimulus funds intended for communities that promote healthy living, Los Angeles County supervisors approved a package of health initiatives Tuesday that included new community gardens and bike paths.

But they stopped short on a controversial proposal, backed by Supervisors Mike Antonovich and Mark Ridley-Thomas, to ban advertising for sugar-sweetened drinks at county facilities and to develop a plan to prohibit such beverages from all county facilities.

"Where you lose me is if you are going to tell me that a patron of the Hollywood Bowl . . . can't buy a Coke. You've lost me," Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said.

"This is overreaching," Supervisor Don Knabe said.

"Would this mean that you can't serve a snow cone at the fair in Pomona?" Supervisor Gloria Molina asked in an interview after she joined Yaroslavsky and Knabe in voting against the provision.

The 3-2 split against the ban -- with Antonovich and Ridley-Thomas voting in support -- came after representatives from Coca-Cola testified against the measure.

Molina, however, said she expected the board to reconsider once staffers detail what specific drinks might be banned and at what county locations, as well as which brands would be barred from sponsorships.

The move to bar sugar-sweetened drinks came as the county is applying for a federal grant earmarked for projects that promote nutrition and physical activity and prevent smoking.

The plan approved Tuesday to bolster the bid was not specific on the community gardens, bike paths and other initiatives.

Earlier this year, the board banned sodas and candy in the county's more than 400 vending machines.

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garrett.therolf@latimes.com

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