BERKELEY, Cali. – The price of a sugar high in Berkeley, Calif., is about to get higher.
Voters in the city approved a 1-cent-an-ounce tax on sugary sodas and energy drinks, according to unofficial results released by local officials.
That adds about 12 cents to the price of a can of soda and about 68 cents to a two liter bottle.
Across the bay in San Francisco, a similar measure didn’t receive enough support to pass.
Results showed the Berkeley measure won 75% of the vote.
It was backed by a variety of groups from the Berkeley Dental Society to the local chapters of the NAACP and teachers union. The Berkeley City Council and school board also backed the measure.
“Overwhelming scientific evidence shows that consumption of sugary drinks causes widespread health problems, starting in childhood,” advocates argued, pointing to links between the drinks and diabetes, heart disease and tooth decay.
They argued most of the opposition came from interest groups tied to soda manufactures, such as the American Beverage Association.
That trade group issued a statement Wednesday that did not directly mention the Berkeley vote, but said it is making a voluntary effort to cut calories consumed in drinks by 20% per person by 2025, including offering smaller portion sizes and more low and no calorie drinks.
“These efforts are in place, working and will have an impact far greater than a tax ever could,” said the trade group.
Other opponents argued that the measure, which exempts 100% juice drinks, chocolate milk and diet sodas as well as some retailers who pick up beverages outside of city limits, “has too many loopholes, too many exemptions and too few safeguards.”
Local opponents included movie theater and restaurant owners.
“We can’t tax our way to health with a measure that provides absolutely zero accountability in terms of how the revenue is spent,” argued opponents.
The similar measure in San Francisco would have imposed a 2-cent-a-ounce tax. It received support of nearly 55% of voters there, but fell short of the two-thirds super-majority vote needed for passage.