Voters Pass Soda Tax in Berkeley, Reject Similar Measure in S.F.
On Tuesday, Berkeley residents voted to pass the country's first soda tax, while voters in San Francisco rejected a similar ballot measure, KQED's "State of Health" reports.
Details of Berkeley Soda Tax
In Berkeley, Measure D passed with about 75% of the votes (Aliferis, "State of Health," KQED, 11/4).
The measure will levy a penny-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. The measure -- which will raise an estimated $1 million to $3 million annually for the city's general fund -- needed a simple majority to pass (California Healthline, 9/25).
Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates (D) said, "We're saying no to Big Soda," adding, "We're saying that Berkeley and the rest of the country need to pay attention that soda is such a destructive product" (Knickmeyer, AP/U-T San Diego, 11/5).
Josh Daniels, co-chair of the measure's support campaign, said, "I think you will now see many, many other cities and communities around the country looking at this as a genuine public policy to address the diabetes and obesity crisis that we face" ("State of Health," KQED, 11/4).
However, Roger Salazar -- a spokesperson for the opposition campaign organized by the American Beverage Association in Berkeley and San Francisco, argued that Berkeley's new soda tax would have limited implications nationally.
He said, "Berkeley is very eclectic. It doesn't look like Anytown USA" (AP/U-T San Diego, 11/5).
Details of Failed San Francisco Tax
In San Francisco, only 54.5% of voters backed Proposition E, failing to reach the required two-thirds' supermajority to pass ("State of Health," KQED, 11/4).
Prop. E would have levied a two cent-per ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. The proposal would have raised an estimated $30 million annually for nutrition and physical education programs, as well as other city programs (California Healthline, 9/25).
According to the Los Angeles Times' "L.A. Now," the measure required a two-thirds majority to pass because the tax revenue would have gone into a special fund for recreation and nutrition programs in schools and parks (Lin, "L.A. Now," Los Angeles Times, 11/5).
Salazar touted the results in San Francisco. He said, "Despite being considered an extremely liberal city, voters in San Francisco share many of the same economic concerns as the rest of the American public" (Knight, San Francisco Chronicle, 11/4).
However, other stakeholders said it was significant that the initiative garnered support from more than 50% of voters.
San Francisco Supervisors Scott Wiener, Eric Mar and Malia Cohen in a combined statement said, "With Berkeley's results, and our numbers, we have delivered a double black eye to the beverage industry. ... We are excited for our allies in Berkeley, who knocked over the first domino tonight, beginning a nationwide public health movement ("L.A. Now," Los Angeles Times, 11/5).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.