A proposed soda tax is officially on the ballot this November for the city of San Francisco. Proponents of the tax hope they can make up for lost ground after a similar measure failed two years ago, but the soda industry isn’t going down without a fight.
In 2014, the soda tax received 54.5 percent of the vote, yet did not achieve the required two-third supermajority to pass. According to KQED News, such a significant percentage was needed because the revenue from the tax was earmarked for public health programs. This time around, the measure proposes creating a 16-person advisory panel to make recommendations to city officials as to how the money should be spent.
If it passes, San Francisco will join Philadelphia and Berkeley in the fight against sugary beverages and the health risks they pose to the public and pave the way for future state and federal actions. Since the city of Berkeley passed its own Soda Tax in 2014, consumption of sugary beverages like soda has fallen by 25%.
Oakland and Albany will also have the opportunity to pass their own soda taxes this fall, yet the initiatives aren’t without opposition. “Big Soda” spent $10 million on attack ads in San Francisco two years ago, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, and have already started their crusade again this year, with attack ads against what they are deceptively calling the “Grocery Tax”, featuring mournful-looking minority children and grocery store owners, in print mailings, TV commercials and posters. Huffington Post calls these misleading commercials “unethical” because they are deceptive and designed to manipulate the fears of low-income communities, who are disproportionately effected by rising diabetes and obesity rates in children. It will be up to the voters to decide if they want soda industries to maintain their suffocating grasp on public health, or not.