Voters pass first soda tax

Voters pass first soda tax

Residents of the famously liberal town approve a tax on sugar sweetened beverages.

In a sweet (but not sugary) footnote to last week’s election, voters in Berkeley, Calif., approved the country’s first soda tax. The approval is a “scary precedent for the food industry” according to Forbes. That depends, of course, which sector of the industry you're talking about.

Seventy percent of Berkeley voters approved of Measure D, which imposes a 1 cent per ounce tax on sugar sweetened beverages and flavored drinks. It increases the price of a can of soda in Berkeley by 12 cents and ups it 68 cents for a 2-liter bottle. Berkeley voters passed the tax in spite of the millions spent by the American Beverage Association in opposition.

Will the tax help Berkeley residents make healthier food and beverage choices? Forbes’ says more research is needed to quantify the impact of such measures in people’s decision to explore healthier food and beverage options, notes

The battle to tax – or not tax – soda is a fizzy echo of a smokier sin tax. “It’s no secret that anti-soda advocates turned to the template–a strategy designed to vilify, tax, then ban marketing of a product to children–used to fight tobacco,” writes Forbes’ Nancy Gagliardi.

A Gallup poll taken this summer that showed that two-thirds of Americans avoid soda in their diet found that: “Studies continue to reveal the adverse health effects of consuming soda, and high-profile attempts to ban the purchase of large individual servings of soda or to tax it have apparently raised Americans' consciousness about drinking it, even if closer to half still consume the beverage.”

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