Berkeley, Calif., became the first U.S. city to pass a law taxing sugary drinks including sodas.
More than three-quarters of the votes cast were in favor of Measure D, according to the Alameda County Registrar of Voters. The measure will place a 1-cent-an-ounce tax on soft drinks. It only needed a majority of “yes” votes to pass.
In nearby San Francisco, city voters rejected a similar measure to tax sugary drinks. The measure needed two-thirds of the vote to approve the two-cent tax.
Proponents of the Berkeley tax say the fee will help curb consumption of sodas, energy drinks and sweetened iced teas, beverages they say are contributing to the nation’s obesity epidemic.
That argument echoes calls made by other cities that have also tried to pass soda taxes but have failed in the face of well-funded opposition from soda manufacturers. Notably, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s attempted ban on large-size sugary beverages was blocked by a New York state judge.
Berkeley, which makes flouting the national norm a point of pride, managed to override its own soda-backed opposition.
“Berkeley has a proud history of setting nationwide trends, such as non-smoking sections in restaurants and bars, curb cuts for wheelchairs, curbside recycling and public school food policies,” said Vicki Alexander, co-chair of the group campaigning to pass Measure D, in a statement announcing a victory for the campaign.
The win may make it a leader, or just simply an outlier.
Roger Salazar, a representative of the $10 million opposition campaign in Berkeley and San Francisco that was funded by soft-drink manufacturers, said the Berkeley vote meant little nationally.
“Berkeley is very eclectic. It doesn’t look like Anytown USA,” he told the Associated Press.
Originally written By: Laura Mandaro,
USA TODAY Network