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Berkeley's Measure D Passes Making It First City in U.S. To Tax Soda; San Francisco's Similar Proposition E Failed

BERKELEY (KCBS) — Soda drinkers in Berkeley will soon have to pay an extra cent per ounce to consume their sugary drinks as a majority of voters supported Measure D. It will become the nation's first tax on soda.

Meanwhile, a similar soda-tax measure, Proposition E in San Francisco, failed to pass.

Berkeley's Measure D Passes Making It First City in U.S. To Tax Soda; San Francisco's Similar Proposition E Failed

Measure D campaign manager Sara Soka told KCBS their grassroots effort paid off. The one-cent per ounce soda tax took an a commanding lead early on and never looked back winning with about 75 percent approval.

"What I think has happened in Berkeley is going to be the first in many cities…Berkeley has a very proud history of being a trendsetter, especially when it comes to social justice and public health," she said.

While the passing of the soda-tax measure is history making, Roger Salazar, spokesman for the American Beverage Association, said he doesn't think Berkeley has opened the door for other cities.

"Berkeley is Berkeley; they are an outlier. They like to be different; the pride themselves as being different but they can't know, all of a sudden, claim that by being different somehow the rest of the country is going to follow," Salazar said.

The ABA spent nearly $8 million to defeat the measures.

Proposition E, co-authored in San Francisco by Supervisor Scott Wiener, fell short of getting the two-thirds majority it need for passage only getting 55 percent of the vote.

Alan Auerbach, from the Robert D. Burch Professor of Law and Economics at UC Berkeley, told KCBS that some of that is due to the liberal gap between Berkeley and San Francisco.

"Also the measure in Berkeley was only half as big—it was one cent an ounce instead of two cents an ounce—so perhaps people thought it was less of an issue and Berkeley is different—even than San Francisco," he said.

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At issue for the soda-tax measures are the costly community health concerns of obesity, diabetes and dental disease—particularly among children and low-income groups and the link between those groups and high consumption of sugary drinks.

But opponents alleged that both measures are riddled with loopholes for some businesses and it doesn't make sense because chocolate milk, alcoholic beverages and some coffee drinks wouldn't be taxed no matter how much sugar or how many calories they contain.

Opponents also pointed out that the money raised by the tax will be funneled into the city's general fund and city officials could shift the money to other things besides educating people about the dangers of drinking soda.

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