San Francisco Soda Tax Mulled, Would Add 24 Cents to Every Can

Image: San Francisco Soda Tax Mulled, Would Add 24 Cents to Every Can The 60-foot long Coca-Cola bottle stands near left field at AT&T Park in San Francisco.

Thursday, 31 Oct 2013 03:07 PM

By Clyde Hughes

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San Francisco has become the new battlefield in the "war on soda," as city supervisor Scott Wiener plans to introduce a tax ballot measure targeting sugary drinks.

Wiener's proposal, which he told the San Francisco Chronicle on Monday he would introduce this week, would levy a 24-cent tax on each can of soda sold in the city. San Francisco already prohibits fast food restaurants like McDonald's from handing out free toys in kids' meals high in fat, salt and sugar.

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Wiener told the newspaper that tax proceeds would go to support health, nutrition, and activity programs for San Francisco youth.

"I try to cross my t's and dot my i's, and I wouldn't pursue this if I didn't think it had a chance," Wiener told the Chronicle. "There will be a big fight — the beverage industry will try to pull all the shenanigans they have pulled elsewhere — but we have a strong coalition behind this. San Francisco is always at the forefront of public health issues and trying to find innovative ways to keep the city healthy."

The Chronicle noted, though, that similar attempts to tax sugary drinks failed last year in nearby Richmond and Los Angeles County's El Monte.

Then there was New York's attempt to ban the sale of sugary drinks of more than 16 ounces, led by Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2012. That ban has lost twice in state court and now is awaiting a hearing in the state's highest court, the Court of Appeals, next year, wrote The New York Times.

New York City's Democratic mayoral candidate and race favorite Bill de Blasio has voiced support for the soda size restrictions that have been criticized and ridiculed in the business community.

Wiener said in a statement that the tax could bring in as much as $31 million annually, The Huffington Post wrote.

"We are experiencing an epidemic of health problems caused by sugary beverages — including diabetes and obesity afflicting adults, teenagers, and even young children — and we have a responsibility to act to confront this escalating public health challenge," Wiener wrote in the release, according to the Huffington Post.

Wiener told the San Francisco Chronicle that one can of soda contains as much as 10 teaspoons of sugar — one to four more than recommended for adults per day by the American Heart Association.

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