City of San Francisco Sugary Drink Tax (November 2014)

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A City of San Francisco Sugary Drink Tax ballot measure is on the November 4, 2014 election ballot for voters in the city of San Francisco, California. A similar measure is also on the November ballot in Berkeley.

This measure, which would impose a $0.02 per ounce tax on sugary beverages in San Francisco, was introduced by city supervisor Scott Wiener. The tax would amount to a 24 cent tax on every can of soda sold. The tax was estimated to bring in a revenue of about $31 million per year.[1]

The proceeds of this tax would be earmarked for "nutrition, physical activity, and health programs in public schools, parks, and elsewhere."[2]

With millions of dollars spent by the beverage industry in opposition, similar tax measures were defeated in 2012 in Richmond and the town of El Monte.[3]

A 2/3rds supermajority vote is required for approval of this measure.



Supervisor Scott Wiener

Supervisor Scott Wiener is the sponsor of this measure.

Arguments in favor

According to Wiener, "We are experiencing an epidemic of health problems directly attributable to sugary beverages – including spikes in diabetes and obesity afflicting adults, teenagers, and even young children. Teenagers, particularly in low income communities, are now being diagnosed with pre-diabetes or full-blown diabetes. These cases of diabetes are attributable to significant consumption of sugary beverages. A recent California survey found that sugary beverage consumption by teenagers is increasing above its already-high level."[2]



The Libertarian Party of San Francisco is the official ballot opponent. The Coalition for an Affordable City, a group formed to oppose the measure, and Californians for Food & Beverage Choice, an organization formed and supported by the American Beverage Association, are also actively opposing the measure. Californians for Food & Beverage Choice also opposes the beverage tax in Berkeley.

Arguments against

"High cigarette taxes have resulted in smuggling, tax evasion, and violence, and jacking up soda taxes will likewise have adverse consequences that legislators cannot anticipate," noted the Libertarian Party's ballot argument against the measure. "Your body belongs to you, not to the State," added LPSF outreach director Starchild. "What you put into it should be your choice." Roger Salzar, spokesman for the CFBC, said, "Our view basically is that beverage taxes aren’t the solution for changing behaviors or teaching people about healthy lifestyles. A regressive tax on common grocery items like sugar-sweetened beverages in Berkeley won’t make people any healthier, but it does have an impact on businesses and consumers who are already struggling to make ends meet."[4]

Path to the ballot

According to a fact sheet on the proposed soda tax found on Scott Wiener's website, Wiener is collaborating with Supervisors Eric Mar, Malia Cohen and John Avalos to unify proposals and get the tax on the ballot. The San Francisco City Council voted during one of its February meetings to put the measure on the ballot.[2][4]

Similar measures

Defeatedd City of Richmond Tax on Soda, Measure N (November 2012)
Defeatedd City of El Monte Soda Tax, Measure H (November 2012)

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