Soda Tax Fight in Berkeley, S.F. Could Have Nationwide Implications
Health advocates in cities throughout the U.S. are paying close attention to ballot proposals in Berkeley and San Francisco that would tax sugar-sweetened beverages, Politico reports.
Supporters of soda tax proposals say such efforts can help curb the rise of obesity and diabetes and help fund health programs, while opponents argue such taxes represent a government overreach and would raise the cost of living.
Details of Ballot Initiatives in Calif.
In Berkeley, Measure D would levy a penny-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. The measure -- which would raise an estimated $1 million to $3 million annually for the city's general fund -- needs a simple majority to pass.
According to city-commissioned polls conducted in March and April, 53% to 66% of likely Berkeley voters supported the tax, while 28% to 38% opposed it.
In San Francisco, Proposition E would levy a two cent-per ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. The proposal -- which would raise an estimated $30 million annually for nutrition and physical education programs, as well as other city programs -- requires a two-thirds' majority to pass.
A May poll found that 54% of San Francisco residents supported the measure, while 44% opposed it.
In recent years, the beverage industry has successfully defeated more than 30 similar soda tax proposals in states and cities throughout the country. However, polls show that passing the measures in the liberal cities is possible.
As a result, the beverage industry has spent at least $2 million to fight the measures and keep its perfect record, according to Politico.
Experts say that if the taxes pass in one of the cities, it could reignite similar measures throughout the country. However, if the measures fail, it could discourage other cities and states from even trying, Politico reports.
In a recent opinion piece on the Berkeley proposal, Robert Reich -- a professor at UC-Berkeley and former Labor Secretary -- wrote, "If a soda tax can't pass in the most progressive city in America, it can't pass anywhere" (Bottemiller Evich, Politico, 9/24).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.