San Francisco Supervisors Put Soda Tax on November Ballot

SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco supervisors have approved a sugary drink tax for the city’s November ballot.

The Board of Supervisors voted 6-4 on Tuesday to put a 2-cent-per-ounce tax on sodas, sports drinks and other beverages sweetened with sugar. If approved, the tax would raise the total cost of a 20-ounce drink by 40-cents.

Two-thirds of San Francisco voters will have to pass the tax measure for it to be approved.

City officials have estimated the measure would raise somewhere between $31 million and $52 million a year.

The proposal had gained support after a statewide poll released in February found nearly 80 percent of Bay Area residents support such a tax.

The latest nonpartisan Field Poll found that 67 percent of the voting public in California supports a tax on soda and other sugary drinks, with the revenue going for school nutrition and physical activity programs.

That number jumps to 78 percent in the Bay Area, according to the poll.

In a statement made in February by San Francisco Supervisors Malia Cohen, Eric Mar and Scott Wiener, they said that the measure would address health issues attributed to sugary drinks.

“These poll results make it clear that soda tax measures that address our epidemic of diabetes, like the one we have introduced in San Francisco, have broad and deep support,” according to a statement by the supervisors. “San Francisco residents understand the negative impacts these drinks have on our public health.”

Wiener said health experts have tied consumption of sugary drinks to type 2 diabetes, obesity and other health problems and that a tax “will save lives and improve public health in San Francisco.”

Dr. Laura Schmidt, a professor with the University of California at San Francisco’s School of Medicine, said recent studies have found even more problems with sugary drinks, which she said can cause increased risk of heart attack, stroke or liver damage and often harm low-income communities the most.

Schmidt said there are “mountains of evidence” that a tax can deter consumers from choosing sugary drinks and picking a healthier option instead.

Wiener said the supervisors will learn from the city of Richmond, which proposed a similar measure last November but had it rejected by 67 percent of voters.

(Copyright 2014, KRON 4, All rights reserved.)

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