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If voters in liberal cities like Berkeley and San Francisco reject a tax on soda this November, do such measures have hope of passing anywhere else? The beverage industry is hoping the answer is no, which is why a lot is riding on the upcoming election for both sides. In this hour, we focus on Berkeley’s Measure D and San Francisco’s Proposition E, which propose taxes of one and two cents per ounce, respectively. As part of our Election Watch 2014 series, Forum discusses the pros and cons of soda taxes.

Guests:
Scott Wiener, Supervisor for San Francisco District 8 and sponsor of Proposition E
Eric Gorovitz, representative for Yes on Measure D, which is proposes a tax on sugary beverages in Berkeley
Roger Salazar, spokesman for the No on Measure D campaign

  • Beth Grant DeRoos

    Has any city/town passed a higher tax on soda, and if so what was the effect? And wouldn’t someone simply go to a neighboring town and buy soda anyway?

    • Cammy
      • Dana Woldow

        Since January 2014 when Mexico passed a soda tax, purchases of sugary drinks are down 10% and purchases of water are up 13%. http://tinyurl.com/pmyr4gr

    • Jill Herschman

      These would be the first taxes of their kind, to tax distributors rather than assessing a sales tax directly at the time of purchase. Colorado and New York have had statewide sales taxes in place for years

    • Erica Etelson

      Not likely that a teenager walking by the corner store will decide to get in a car and drive to another city just to buy a soda, more likely she’ll rethink her beverage choice. In any event, the existence of the tax serves to stigmatize the product and educate people about how ruinous soda is for our health.

    • Gina Risso

      I think Richmond did a few years ago.

  • clayton

    I used to drink
    lot of coke and my nutritionist told me it is junk, so don’t take it as it is
    not good for health in long run. I am for increase in tax for these carbonated
    beverages. I have tight schedule can’t afford to be easy, watch TV and drink
    soda. Anyway back to finish my
    essay
    services
    assignment now.

  • Frank

    It’s the people who are sovereign, not the corporations. If we the people elect to tax the corporations or their products then so it shall be. Corporations have stolen far too much control over our democracy using legalized bribery and sleazy lobbyists but that influence must be fought everywhere it occurs. In the case of soda, clearly what is good for Coca Cola’s profits is bad for public health.

    • ES Trader

      Corporations in a free economy only tries to provide what the market demands; if they are marketing sugary sodas and salty snacks it is because that is what sells and not the place of government to regulate it.

      Parents should look to themselves and avoid conditioning infants with sugary juices and take responsibility if they are going to reproduce offspring.

      • thucy

        Oy! The thing is that we the taxpayers don’t want to subsidize the Type II diabetes and heart disease treatment of free market-espousing baby boomers receiving Medicare at the expense of later generations.
        Why? Because both diseases, which are bankrupting the state, are entirely preventable. So it’s irrational and illogical not to take action to drive down consumption of sugary drinks that lead to T2 and HD.
        You can hail “the free market” all you like, but chances are you never actually read Adam Smith, who never advocated the free market nonsense that people like you claim he did.

        • ES Trader

          free market, free to choose, what’s in a name?

          The point is ignorance is nature’s way to weed out the weak and survival of the fittest regardless of the venue, the jungle or so called civilization.

          You as usual, disregard human nature and your own choices which apparently have not been regulated yet, with emphasis on YET !

          Let’s regulate over-opinionated people with 0 real world experience that pollute web sites !

          • thucy

            “The point is ignorance is nature’s way to weed out the weak and survival of the fittest regardless of the venue, the jungle or so called civilization.”

            If memory of your prior statements serves, your own weaknesses, specifically a stroke, have not “weeded out” your existence because Medicare has covered you.

            How much of your animus toward “the weak” stems from your own frailty? We the taxpayer are covering you, and deserve to recoup some of that loss for the larger community through taxation of soda.

          • ES Trader

            As usual you identify 1 piece of a jigsaw puzzle and think you can see the entire picture.

            1) I did have a stroke (obviously non-terminal as yet)

            2) I did take advantage of an insurance policy that I involuntarily paid into for 40 years before the usual age requirement

            3) The “weakness” that I had was reliance of an incompetent health care provider,(Kaiser) that failed to provide adequate prevention advice, control and the bad luck to go to Kaiser Emergency staffed by a ER MD that did not respond appropriately to my condition.

            4) A legal system that stacked the deck against finding an attorney to seek compensation ( A definite advocate for YES on Prop 46 ).

            5) My weakness was a non-fatal “accident”) that all living creatures experience but continue on till the end.

            6) I consciously decided long ago that reproduction was not my philosophy so as the few responsibilities remaining concludes, I will not become a burden or be responsible for further reduction of this planet.

            7) My weakness has me unable to touch type with both hands but still performing adequately as is apparent.

            So the bottom line is all of us probably have similar views of a better society and world but the route for reaching that goal is in disagreement.

            If every law passed actually achieved its intended goal, I would be first in line with the loudest voice but the reality is that as in physics, there is a reaction for every action, and unenforceable, disrespected laws only create a bigger big brother.

            One final thing, I have no animus towards the “weak”, in general except when the weak find themselves in the situation they are in, only to scream out for help from liberals that rush in out of guilt and force the rest to pay for the act of foolishness.

          • LF

            That is a slippery slope. One person’s “over-opinionated” idea is another’s logical argument. When we start censoring the “over-opinionated” we lose our democracy.

          • ES Trader

            learn to recognize sarcasm and lighten up

      • Patricia

        Really…the market is now demanding meth. Should the gov regulate that? My guess is if they didn’t, then there would be a bigger market demand for meth…it might even outstrip soda.

        • ES Trader

          if one is stupid enough to get addicted to it let them, as long as they don’t impact the rest of us.

      • Bob Fry

        Shall we then let people sell themselves into slavery? Because in a truly free economy anything would be for sale.

        The “free economy” is a myth by neocons and shallow thinkers.

        • ES Trader

          Go ask the average Walmart employee that question.

          You don’t recognize reality right under your prominent proboscis, maybe it is casting too much shadow

  • ES Trader

    This is just the genesis of potential black markets, criminal activity and potential unnecessary law enforcement down the road.

    We are very close to legal marijuana, why try to reverse sanity and common sense?

    Does society want another “War on Drugs” and the complications that produced?

    • LF

      No one is talking about jailing people who use soda. Get a grip.

      • ES Trader

        again recognize satire regardless of its poor quality,

        Honestly, ask yourself if passing this law will achieve its promises.

        Americans at all age levels have little respect for food and treat it like underwear to be thrown in the hamper daily.

        Think about the confusing message of banning sodas while providing vending machines conveniently at school with soda and candy; it is hypocritical at best and just idiocy at worst. Then substituting OJ and apple juice as a “healthy” alternative, read the label on fruit juices,

        So look before you leap.

  • thucy

    The argument that the “free market” is only providing what people demand is erroneous. For so many workers who must travel, and even those who work in fixed places, such as hospitals, the range of both food and beverage choices is often severely constrained to 1) overly fatty, 2) absurdly sugary, and 3) mouth-puckeringly salty.

    Adding a tax has already been proved to reduce consumption of this garbage, which has the overall effect of forcing the corporations who make this garbage to produce healthier options.

  • why_not_now

    Stop subsidizing corn and have the true price of high fructose syrup in sodas!

    • Robert Thomas

      That is a laudable goal. Obviously, a simultaneous withdrawal of supports for the cane and beet sucrose crop would be required, for the sake of fairness. This would result in only a decade or two of renegotiation of world trade agreements.

    • linstur

      Great idea!

  • ES Trader

    Yea tax the poor then increase social welfare spending to subsidize the added tax?

    Doesn’t this look like the hamster in the cage spinning the wheel ?

  • darqmyth

    1 – How is the Berkeley measure not just a tax grab. If the funds aren’t earmarked we are left to believe politicians that the money will be well spent. If your intent is to use the monies for nutrition programs, why not earmark the tax revenue;

    2 – Exactly how does this measure punish “Big Soda”. The tax is paid by distributors, not “Big Soda”;

    3 – Are there any other sugary substances that are excessively indulged in by the public and why aren’t they being taxed.

  • Patricia

    Saying that it will disproportionately affect the poor, is like saying that pollution regulations will disproportionately affect the poor, or meth, or drug, or cig taxes …. Great! About time we did something for the poor. The 1% are drinking designer water…Few folks I know who drink
    soft drinks on a regular basis.

  • ES Trader

    More tax money for school lunches? Has anyone monitored the amount of food that is thrown out as waste by kids in school ?

    If it doesn’t work, let’s increase the amount because then it will work?!

  • Ben Rawner

    I don’t think this tax is high enough! The counselman from Berkeley pointed out that diabetes will cost 250 billion next year while these beverage companies only make 1oo billion. Typical corporate outcomes, short gains for long losses.
    It should be 25 cents, so the tax revenues could really address the issue of obesity. Soda is a luxury and it should be taxed as such.

    • Robert Thomas

      Sugar sweetened coffee at coffee bars, too?

      Maybe, no extra tax for low(er) glucose, high-fructose sweetener, such as honey?

      How do you tax packets of sugar at the coffee bar?

      • linstur

        Why not tax all sugar and HFCS? Maybe restaurants will stop giving sugar away for free. They don’t give cigarettes away either.

      • thucy

        Hi Robert,
        I get your point about the overly sweet coffee drinks. But the soda sales are a target for good reason – namely, that soda contains more sugar than the ghastly overly sweet Starbucks concoctions, and perhaps more importantly, because soda is consumed at a FAR higher rate than said coffee concoctions.

        • Robert Thomas

          thucy, *I* get that it’s a practical goal to reduce consumption of caloric polysaccharides, especially those such as sucrose that contain a large amount of glucose. I think the evidence is strong that many (not all) people develop metabolic pathologies from their over-consumption.

          I’m not a professionally superior person but you will know I am a dedicated amateur. So it’s hard to admit that I’ve struggled to reduce my complex and simple carbohydrate intake, in order to reduce peak and fasting blood glucose. It ain’t easy, and I’ve never been cursed with a sweet tooth.

          I was raised by a Mississippi belle who would never have allowed herself to be caught unable to offer a guest a pitcher of iced sweet Assam or Darjeeling (and who survived into her ninth decade on a further diet of Wonder Bread and mayonnaise without suffering elevated glucose). It’s very easy to cluck one’s tongue at the culinary peculiarities of other people.

          I spent a recent holiday with newly acquired family members in Sebastopol. Somehow, the conversation turned to the attempt to pass the sugar tax in Richmond. Witnessing the spectacle – of well-intentioned, affluent, progressive-minded people fairly rattling with orgasmic ecstasy at the prospect of punishing black and brown people for the way they eat and feed their children, without biting a hole through my own tongue – was daunting. What made up for it were the the several bottles of excellent eiswein, the very fine Kozlowski Farms preserves and Gravenstein apple cider – the latter two, local specialties – that were “delicious” in more than one way. And I like these people.

          Like the insistence that fast food joints and loathsome, tacky, chain restaurants (in which the children of harried parents of all socio-economic strata nonetheless delight) be required to list their menu items’ calorie counts while worthy, artisanal and internationally known eateries must be protected and remain immune from the vulgar debasement with which such information would clutter a tasting menu, the sugar tax drips with hypocrisy and thinly disguised ethnic and class paternalism. Even though it might be a good idea.

          Even so, why should the predominantly Asian and white swells (including me) at my Starbucks be spared this burden? Because they can afford to flaunt the coercion? I’m left with a bitter aftertaste.

          • thucy

            Robert,
            You had me at polysaccharides.
            Just kidding. But I did read your latest funny and thoughtful missive with pleasure, and I will be considering your excellent points.

  • City Resident

    More important would be an increase to the gas tax. Our addiction to cheap gasoline is harming our health and our environment.

    • City Resident

      Taxes are useful to discourage unhealthy behavior (ie. cigarette tax). The total gas tax is well less than 1 cent/ounce, which fails to cover the cost of maintaining roads and highways and does nothing to cover the environmental costs of burning fossil fuels (and does nothing to discourage unhealthy behavior).

      • linstur

        Not to mention paying for all the accidents and asthma driving causes. At the very least these products should cover the COSTS to society. Taxing sugar for the cost of all those health care bills is a non brainer. I’d rather tax sugar, tobacco, and pollution than income and property. We tax “goods” (employment, home ownership) when we should be taxing “bads.”

  • Bob

    Supervisor Wiener, and the other pro-tax advocates, language and reasoning belies reality. One factor, here sodas, cannot be the reason for all of the “carnage” caused by diabetes. If Wiener wants to help those in San Francisco who are at the bottom he should focus his attention on bigger issues like affordable housing, education, public safety, and not giving away our safety and tax dollars to bogus start-ups whose windfalls, both public and private, are only enriching Silicon Valley millionaires, think Twitter and Uber/AirBNB.

    • Gina Risso

      Actually, just heard that diet sodas may be a big culprit of the rise in diabetes last week on NPR.

  • Arjuna Siva

    How about we stop subsidizing corn? That will have the same end goal, whereas subsidizing corn to make soda cheaper and then taxing it to make it more expensive doesn’t make any sense to me

    • Another Mike

      Most corn becomes an animal feed and a motor fuel.

      • why_not_now

        Pay the true cost of HFC and the subsequent health costs!

        At the same time, Congress and the Department of Agriculture are
        spending more than $1.28 billion annually to subsidize the crops that
        are used as additives in manufacturing cookies, candies, soda pop and
        other highly popular junk food that
        arguably are among the primary contributors to childhood obesity. The
        sweet, fatty and calorie-rich Hostess Twinkies alone contain 14
        ingredients made with highly subsidized processed ingredients, including
        corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, corn starch and vegetable
        shortening.

        Childhood obesity rates have
        more than tripled in the past 30 years, an alarming public health
        development that is contributing about $150 billion a year to the
        overall cost of U.S. health care.

        Read more: http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Articles/2012/07/25/Billions-in-Tax-Dollars-Subsidize-Junk-Food-Industry.aspx#page1#ixzz3EiuAkvPD

  • etoile

    Why is UC Berkeley exempted from Measure D?

  • Another Mike

    The cigarette tax is not parallel because people are not addicted to sugar the way they are addicted to nicotine. The cigarette tax discourages teens from taking up the habit even as it causes suffering to low income adults who can’t quit.

    A soda tax might merely switch kids to powdered drink mixes that require the user to add their own sugar.

    • why_not_now

      Wrong!

      Sweet poison: How sugar, not cocaine, is one of the most addictive and dangerous substances

      http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/white-poison-danger-sugar-beat-article-1.1605232

    • Gina Risso

      Sugar is very addictive. It takes a strong will to quit sugar and a long time. Cravings are strong. Added sugar is in so many things. It might be even harder than quitting cigs, because its still more excepted to have a cupcake verses having a smoke.

  • ES Trader

    This is just the genesis of potential black markets, criminal activity and possible law enforcement.
    Parents need to learn to stop conditioning infants wth sugary fruit juices

    We are about to legalize pot, FINALLY! Havent you learned anything about regulating consumption desires?

    Whats next the giants cupcakes and cronuts?

    Abd taxing sodas to give more to school lunches is likely adding to the amount of waste that kids throw away because they wont eat it. Has anyone studied how much food is wasted in school lunch programs?

    • thucy

      Oh for goodness sake, marijuana is currently moving toward regulation AND taxation, so your argument is void.

  • Walter K

    Soda and other forms of junk food have created a huge public health crisis in this country, bringing our healthcare system almost to the brink of collapse. Measure D is a no-brainer. I can hardly wait to cast my vote in favor.

  • Gina Risso

    What about diet sodas? I just heard on KQED last week, that the artificial sweeteners have been found to initated a pre-diabetic response in our bodies, every time one drinks a diet soda. Are these diet drinks, that are technically
    sugar free, going to be included in the tax?

    they keep referring to ‘sugary’ beverages. With this new research, that should be expanded to artificially sweetened beverages as well.

    • Robert Thomas

      The recent Weitzmann Institute study was conducted to discover the effect of the maximum recommended daily load of non-caloric artificial sweetener on the microbiota in the rodent gut, with an implication of “glucose intolerance”, a somewhat elastically defined condition. Not mentioned in the abstract, the NAS studied was exclusively saccharin – a very different molecule from aspartame or sucralose which are far more commonly used as beverage sweeteners than saccharin, which is now primarily a table sweetener preferred by some coffee drinkers.

      This is precisely the way that interim, tentative scientific investigation becomes part of the lay discussion and subsequently used to lend credence to otherwise poorly supported arguments.

      • thucy

        I hear you, Robert, but for all the ills associated with sugar, and there are many, I can’t for the life of me understand the appeal of artificial sweeteners, all of which are repellent, and at least one of which received FDA approval under dubious circumstances.

        How about: let’s tax the flagrantly over-sugared sodas, and try to consume other sweet treats on any given day only in accordance with our physical output?

        • Robert Thomas

          As I wrote in my other (what else?) long-winded response, I, too, have haunted the carbohydrate gutters and back alleys.

          If you asked me before three years ago, I would have echoed your contempt for artificial sweeteners. Bleehhcchh! Why bother with anything sweet, if you have to resort to those?

          But I stopped eating most (not all) things with sugar. My recurring fix, throughout life, was Dr Pepper. I would give it up for periods and then fall off the wagon. What I found, when I gave up eating anything with sugar, is that after a period

          1) EVERYTHING started to taste sweet – even deionized water from the lab tastes sweet to me.

          2) many things taste too sweet. I miss grapefruit juice but its over-sweet taste now makes even a treat of it no treat at all. I can enjoy an occasional 6oz, or so of good orange juice (where I could once drink a quart without difficulty) IF it’s good orange juice. Most fruits are too sweet. I loved apples and tangelos and good pears. Now I search for tasty fruit that’s not cloyingly sweet. I can tolerate the taste of strawberries and some other berries. Many vegetables strike me as being glazed with a maple taste.

          3) I can drink diet Dr Pepper without gagging. This doesn’t taste too sweet, and the wretched aftertaste that aspartame used to cause is gone. It doesn’t taste like sugar (or feel like sugar) but it’s not at all unpleasant. I feel like this is an adequate fix. As Bill Burroughs says to Matt Dillon in Drugstore Cowboy, when Dillon’s character dumps a bottle of mixed pills on the bed where Burroughs is sitting “…this… this is for squares [brushing aside everything but the morphine and dilaudid] but this… this… Bless you, my son…”

          4) I once spent a day in Florence, by myself, patronizing eleven gelato purveyors. The riso and ananas at Vivoli ARE all they’re cracked up to be. I miss gelato.

          I used to bake, but I don’t exactly know how to enjoy it now. I haven’t found substitute recipes for my mother’s Jeff Davis and lime chess pies that contain sane ingredients. No one will croak from eating a slice of one of those incomparable wonders once or twice a year, but the fun has gone out of it.

          Have you ever looked at a collection of Fabergé cigarette cases?

  • Another Mike

    Can Supervisor Weiner explain why the Board of Supervisors voted to discourage the sale of bottles of refreshing, zero-calorie water?

    • why_not_now

      Straw man argument.

      Try again, and do try to stay on topic.

      • Another Mike

        Per a comment below, Mexico’s soda tax has shifted consumption of refreshing drinks from sodas to bottled water.

  • ES Trader

    Would Scott Wiener Eric Gorovitz favor a measure to regulate candidates that run for public office because of the mess that government has gotten the country into?

    • LF

      We could regulate the candidates by repealing the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling which says money is speech. When a candidate can spend unlimited amounts there is no regulation. Different show though.

      • ES Trader

        I propose a Super Supreme Court to over rule idiots like Rehnquist ( with his gold striped sleeves) and Scalia and prevent them from choosing our presidents in the future

  • rhuberry

    What impact on obesity have the garden and nutrition programs in the Berkeley schools had on children?

  • Jonathan Greenberg

    I’m not convinced this will actually get the desired effect. this is such a diversion from the real conversation about health, activity, and parental engagement. we don’t need a nanny state ruled by half cooked ideas.

    • Bob Fry

      Your “real conversation” never happens, meanwhile the corporations continue to produce harmful products. These measures are a good start…but only a start.

      • Jonathan Greenberg

        this isn’t a good start. it’s a great a way for people to feel like they’ve done something to address the problem when in fact they haven’t. people will still buy as much soda as they want. we should focus on the real root of the problem vs gumming up our legal system with ineffective laws. one caller was absolutely correct regarding our ridiculous corn subsidies.

  • Bindiya

    If the goal is to educate consumers, then why not require
    soda companies to put the number of teaspoons of sugar on the can? If I were to
    read that it had “10 teaspoons of sugar” I would think twice before buying it
    (grams doesn’t mean anything to the average consumer). Also, if their aim
    is to tax the biggest contributors to diabetes and obesity, then why not tax
    restaurants that serve unnecessarily large portions?-Bindiya

  • Frequentshopper

    I am only 15 pounds over my ideal weight but my doctor recently convinced me to stop drinking fresh orange juice due to the amount of calories. Why is Weiner being so selective in what calories to tax? Why is he promoting a switch from soda to bottled water? I thought the City of SF was discouraging use of bottled water. If San Francisco voters were corn farmers Weiner would not even think of taxing sodas. Just one more restriction on us from Weiner on his way to a run for mayor. Can’t he get the attention he seeks with more constructive proposals!

    • thucy

      Being “only” 15 pounds over your ideal weight can be a significant risk factor. Glad your MD was finally able to get you to turn down the OJ.
      The tax on sodas, rather than fresh OJ, is no doubt linked to the reality that the gross sales (and thereby consumption) of fresh OJ don’t come anywhere near that of soda. In a sense, the higher price of fruit juice (which no one should be drinking) serves the same function of a tax

  • Another Mike

    Why not tax based on calories? A uniform 2 cent an ounce tax will not promote the creation of lower sugar sodas.

    • why_not_now

      Go for it!

  • Selostaja

    Seems a better method would be to disallow highly processed foods and sugar packed drinks be purchased via EBT due to effects on public health costs.

  • Ericka D

    Great discussion. For anyone interested in facts about ill effects of sugary drinks, please see research and fact sheets at http://www.kickthecan.info.

  • Undecided?

    The Rudd Center at Yale has done a study showing that Black children and teens view 80 to 90% more TV ads for sugary drinks as compared to their white peers. If the Beverage industry cared so much about the poor, people of color, and children and youth, then why are they marketing so heavily to them – traditional media, social media, cell phones, in schools?

    2. With its the industry’s recent pledge to reduce the amount of sugar in their products over the next 11 years, the soda industry already recognizes that the sugar in its products is harmful to our health. So, why wouldn’t the industry want to accelerate progress by dropping its opposition to taxes and warning labels on sugar drinks? Those taxes could further reduce calories in America’s beverage mix even more quickly, and would raise needed revenue for the prevention and treatment of soda-related diseases.

  • TK_PhD

    You argue about disincentivizing soda consumption as valid for motivating consumers to buy less soda. But once soda becomes a revenue generator, won’t this incentivize the government to sell more? As with parking enforcement and other revenue generation streams, the government has shown many times – that once they have a good revenue stream – these policies often stop reflecting what’s good for the community and start reflecting what’s good for making more money.

    • linstur

      Taxes are the single most effective way to curb consumption of dangerous products. Yes, it’s not perfect. But if the ONLY way to slow the consumption (and with it the disease, disfigurement and death that comes with it) is taxes, can you live with that? In an imperfect world, this is as close to a great solution as there is. Tobacco taxes have cut consumption in HALF. 50%! No one ever thought that could happen and all the education in the world can’t have the impact of a tax.

      • TK_PhD

        That’s a great argument for enabling a generation of sheeple. The almighty sin tax, because people need to be corralled and punished, and told what to do. Education is not nearly as effective!? How about we just strap shock collars on everyone and the government can zap them when they do something that’s against their own interest or that of the public good. That would be even more effective!

        The only way these sin taxes work is when everyone is so financially strapped that an extra twenty cents actually hurts their bottom line. For me, I wouldn’t think twice about it. Do you think Obama cares about a few bucks on a pack of cigarets? It’s a regressive tax, it’s crap logic, and it encourages people to not think. Further it’s an incentive for the government to keep the masses poor. Without that, the mechanism of control would lose its effectiveness.

        I agree that taxes incentivize behavior, but I think the effect is much bigger on those that reap the tax. Which is a bigger incentive/disincentive, 20 cents a can of soda or 2 million dollars in the government coffers. The government has become addicted to all kinds of taxes that actually incentivize it to work agains the public good. Further, the government only pushes this “sin tax” argument when it works in their favor (to collect more taxes). Consider the income tax vs the capitol gains tax; upwards of 30% compared to upwards of 15%, respectively. Oh they spin it as incentivizing investment, but you could just as easily argue that it is an extra 15% sin tax agains WORK, that adds actual VALUE.

        Besides all of the above, it’s a slippery slope. Sugar isn’t actually bad (high fructose corn syrup, maybe). But where do you draw the line. Soda, cookies, candy…bacon? Carbs, calories, how about a mayonnaise tax? Fruit has sugar in it. Oh, but that’s healthy, or at least that’s the current stance. Besides, who can afford fresh fruit? Have you seen the price of a peach lately? Talk about a disincentive for eating healthy. You want to sin tax unhealthy things, how about we start with crops laden with pesticides and herbicides?

        So, what would I do? EDUCATE!!! If soda is really THAT bad, then maybe a labeling law. Something like “Hey fatty, fat, fatty, your excessive consumption of high fructose corn syrup is making you unhealthy, but more importantly its costing other tax payers money.” I’m being intentionally insensitive and ironic, but that’s the exact unspoken argument and disrespect for intelligence and free choice that everyone for this measure (and those like it) are showing. How about we start treating people with respect, continue to educate, and stop dumbing down our society with sin taxes.

  • S McCord

    Has anyone seen the documentary, “Fed Up?” How do Salazar and the heads of the beverage corporations sleep at night? Quoting the Fed Up documentary, “If other countries were doing this to our children, we would be at war with them.” We spend 85 cents of every health care dollar on diabeties, obesity, and metabolic syndrome. Sugar is an addiction, 8 times more addictive than cocaine. Somebody needs to step in and implement taxes, or shut these companies down for good. Salazar is so wrong, Americans are consuming more sugar now than ever. There are 10 year olds with strokes and 15 year olds with heart disease. It’s not good natural fat that causes diabetes, high cholesterol and heart disease– it’s sugar! Diet soda is no better, it causes metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance.
    Educate yourselves, see the documentary, follow Dr. Mark Hyman, the expert on diabetes. Also, removing some sugar from food and beverages is not going to cut it! Eat real food, what the universe gave us in its natural unprocessed form, and we can change the health of our nation.
    S McCord

  • Teri O

    Improving public health requires a “yes AND” approach — it will take this tax to create financial disincentives to purchase soda AND education about nutrition (funded by revenues from this tax) AND increased access to healthy foods and physical activity, especially for youth at highest risk of all of the poor health effects of living in poverty (which, again, these tax revenues will address). This tax starts to level the playing field.

  • Amit

    Although they may have a good intention, I’m not interested in a small
    group of politicians controlling our lifestyle choices through taxation.
    Education through taxation…how cheap and easy…it’s just weak, possibly effective but at the end of the day just a patch. Obviously big beverage companies will try to fight this..they stand to lose customers. You know the small beverage companies, who use natural (healthier) sugar would also try to fight this, but they’re torn to maintain a certain public appearance. At the end of the day, they stand to lose the most jobs if anyone is counting.

    This sort of tax encourages people to move to other ‘sweet’
    ready-to-drink beverage choices, which are not necessarily much
    healthier than the product they were trying to discourage the use of. Imagine yourself at the grocery store…you want to bring a bubbly
    cola beverage back home and you see a deal on Coke products and you
    notice Coke classic is $5 and Diet Coke is $4. A lot of people will now consider
    buying Diet. Do we want to encourage this sort of behavior?
    Especially in light of the new studies that have recently disputed the healthiness of artificial sweeteners?

    It makes me think of the introduction of margarine, its promotion as a healthier/cheaper alternative to butter, and now a complete turnaround in that notion. It took a while, but have we learned nothing from that experience, so that we have to effectively repeat history.

    I’d say tax all sweet tasting (either artificially (diet drinks), with
    sugar, HFCS, or natural) beverages that are ready to drink. Who is to
    say drinking large quantities of juice, Diet soda, or anything appealing to our natural sweet tooth is healthy? At the end of the day, we want people to watch what they drink, and these measures go about it in the wrong way.

  • Robert Thomas

    I’ve never been a coffee drinker but I have descended into latter day indulgence in an an occasional afternoon Starbucks ice coffee. Yum!

    I like my ice coffee black, with no whitener or sweetener.

    A change in policy at my local Starbucks (that is, the one 400 yards from me rather than the one 1600 yards from me) earlier this year meant that I have to order my coffee

    “Black, no sweetener”

    rather than just “black”; the default order for plain coffee apparently now is to add sugar. Is this true for every store? I haven’t heard whether the “sugar sweetened beverage” taxes are intended to include coffee bars. If not, why not?

    My unscientific observation is that my fellow coffee bar customers are fond of a great deal of eye-poppingly sweet beverages that many drink more than once a day.

  • Lauren

    I’m starting to get sick of California’s ‘tax the people’ policy for every attempt at social change… Seems like you’d cause more change if you taxed the corporations for selling the products the people are buying rather than taxing the people for buying. If someone wants to drink soda, let them. If it has health consequences, educate them so that better decisions are made in future purchases, but don’t invest tons of money into lobbying for another hike in taxes that will only affect people already suffering from the bad economy. Instead of investing so much money in lobbying for tax hikes, why not invest that money into promoting and education people on healthy eating instead of trying to micromanage and control peoples’ purchasing choices at the grocery store?

    • Another Mike

      Whatever is not forbidden is compulsory in the PRB.

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