Tags: bay area | soda | tax

Bay Area Soda Tax Could Set Precedent After November Votes

By    |   Tuesday, 08 July 2014 07:21 PM

Two Bay Area cities are considering a soda tax on sugary drinks, and the outcome on the November ballots could indicate the future for such a tax.

In San Francisco, the soda tax proposal would pass with a two-thirds vote and impose a two-cent per ounce tax on sugary drinks. It would not apply to milk or natural fruit juices without any added sugars. In Berkeley, California, the tax would add one cent per ounce and would only need a simple majority of the vote to pass in November.

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Lifelong San Francisco resident Barbara Cassidy, 50, said she is afraid a tax on soda could lead to similar actions on other foods.

"It's a slippery slope," she told The Associated Press.

Supporters of the Bay Area soda tax have a long road ahead of them, as similar votes on taxing sugary drinks have been defeated in other California cities. California lawmakers also tried unsuccessfully in June to be the first state to impose warning labels on sugary drinks. All of the failures to pass a tax have been attributed to the soft drink industry’s deep pockets.

But supporters of the tax say this time they're ready educate voters and pound the pavement for their cause.

"In other places, bless their hearts, but they were ill-prepared for what was coming at them," Maggie Muir, a consultant who was hired by San Francisco lawmakers to lead the political committee in support of the soda tax, told the AP.

The Choose Health SF campaign, which has received the endorsement of a San Francisco-area food and grocery worker union, has created a website and a satirical Twitter account called "Big Soda Crybaby" to make fun of the soft drink industry's talking points.

Muir said the idea behind the campaign is to "inoculate and educate" the public against the coming “campaigning blitz” by the beverage industry.

Posting to @BigSodaCrybaby, this Twitter user appears not to support the tax.

Chris Gindlesperger, a spokesman for the American Beverage Association, the lobbying group for Coke and Pepsi, says the failures in California, New York, and other places around the U.S. to impose a tax on soft drinks shows that people don't support the idea.

By contrast, Americans’ consumption of soft drinks has declined about 13 percent in the past 10 years while the drinking of sports drinks has increased. At least one study, the AP reports, has questioned how effective a tax on sugary drinks could be since people might just spend their money on other high-calorie foods.

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Two Bay Area cities are considering a soda tax on sugary drinks, and the outcome on the November ballots could indicate the future for such a tax.
bay area, soda, tax
Tuesday, 08 July 2014 07:21 PM
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