Tax proposal in San Francisco, Berkeley aims to fight obesity, but the soft-drink industry is fighting too
(CBS News) In California, a battle is being waged over the latest, and possibly last, big push to curb the consumption of sugary soft drinks by taxing them.
The purpose is to fight obesity and other chronic illnesses, but the soft-drink industry is fighting too, CBS News correspondent Adriana Diaz reports.
Should a can of soda be treated like a pack of cigarettes? That's what voters in San Francisco and Berkeley will decide later this year, re-igniting the debate on taxing sugary drinks.
"These drinks are making people sick," San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener said.
Wiener proposed the measure in San Francisco. He cites studies that show taxing sugary drinks reduces consumption.
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His proposal will add 2 cents per ounce to the price of sodas, sports drinks and some juices, raising an estimated $30 million per year for anti-obesity programs.
"If this can pass in San Francisco, I believe we will see a lot of energy around the country in cities, in states to try to get this passed elsewhere," Wiener said.
But it's been tried before. In the past four years, lawmakers around the country have introduced 30 special taxes on sugary drinks. None have passed, in part because the food and beverage industry has poured millions into anti-tax ad campaigns.
Ted Mundorff agrees. He's spoken out against the tax in Berkeley, arguing it will hurt families and businesses like his. He runs more than 50 movie theaters across the country.
"It's another tax on business, and we have to figure out how to promote business, not how to hurt business," Mundorff said. "It's not about solving obesity. It's not about solving diabetes. It is about taxation."
Both sides are campaigning heavily. If the measures are defeated, especially in such liberal cities, critics hope the idea will fizzle out for good.