Voters Cast Yes Votes for Soda Tax in Four Cities

NATIONAL REPORT — On election day, voters in four cities approved taxes on soda.

According to the Wall Street Journal, residents of San Francisco, Oakland and Albany, Calif., approved a penny-per-ounce levy on non-alcoholic drinks with caloric sweeteners, which includes sports drinks, iced tea and energy drinks along with soda. In Boulder, Colo., voters approved a ballot measure that calls for a 2-cents-per-ounce tax.

Additionally, on Nov. 10, Illinois' Cook County Board of Commissioners, which represents 5 million people in Chicago and its suburbs, will vote on a penny-per-ounce tax that includes beverages with zero-calorie sweeteners, such as diet soda.

In recent years, soda industry giants, including The Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo Inc. and Dr Pepper Snapple Group, have spent millions of dollars successfully opposing such taxes in dozens of cities and states, according to the report. Philadelphia became the first large U.S. city to pass such a measure when the city council improved a 1.5-cents-per-ounce levy on non-alcoholic beverages with added sweeteners in June.

The beverage industry has filed suit to try and stop the tax before it takes effect in January.

The taxes are levied on distributors. Industry trackers have reported that they could increase prices by 20 percent or more if they are fully passed on to consumers.

The long-term effect that they will have on consumption is unclear. While a recent study by researchers at the University of California estimated that soda consumption in Berkeley, Calif., fell by approximately one-fifth in the city's low-income neighborhoods after its tax was approved, the beverage industry said that the study was flawed.

The American Beverage Association stated this week that it will continue working to cut calories from its members' products.

"We respect the decision of voters in these cities. Our energy remains squarely focused on reducing the sugar consumed from beverages — engaging with prominent public health and community organizations to change behavior," the organization said.

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