Saturday, September 23, 2023
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Nation’s First Soda Tax Passed in Berkeley

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - Berkeley became the first city in the United States to pass a soda tax, while a similar measure in San Francisco failed with voters.

Berkeley's Measure D, approved by nearly 75 percent of the city's voters, puts a 1-cent-per-ounce tax on soda and sugary drinks. Tax revenue will go into the city's general fund.

"We're ecstatic," says Jeff Ritterman, vice president of the board of the San Francisco Bay Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility. "Now we can actually demonstrate that we can use the money from the soda tax to improve the health of our community, and that's what we're going to do."

San Francisco's Local Measure E aimed for a 2-cent-per-ounce tax, and revenue would have gone toward children's health programs. But as a special tax with proceeds for a specific purpose, it needed a two-thirds majority vote to pass while Berkeley's measure only needed a simple majority.

Measure E got just 54.5 percent of San Francisco voters' support.

Tax supporters say sugar-sweetened beverages contribute to health problems from obesity to diabetes, while opponents argue that a tax isn't the right way to treat the issues.

The beverage industry played a major role in campaigning against the two measures, spending more than $10 million.

Roger Salazar, spokesman for the American Beverage Association campaigns in the two cities, told The Associated Press that San Francisco voters "made it clear they can decide for themselves what to eat and drink."

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