California Groups Push for Soda Tax

In response to a 12-year ban, two health-care associations announced a statewide soda tax ballot initiative for 2020.

July 06, 2018

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The California Dental Association and the California Medical Association are pushing for a statewide soda tax in response to the recent passage of a legislation that bans localities from enacting taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages, KUSI-TV reports. The new ballot initiative is slated for the 2020 election cycle.

“Around the world and in local communities, reasonable soda taxes have been proven effective in dramatically reducing consumption of sugary drinks and improving the public health, especially among children,” the groups said in a joint statement.

The associations calculated that such a statewide tax would garner at minimum $1.7 billion, which they recommended be earmarked for health programs. However, the initial statement did not provide details as to how such a tax would work.

As reported in the Los Angeles Times, William M. Dermody Jr., spokesman for the American Beverage Association, said the focus should not be on increasing costs to consumers. “We believe there is a better way for health advocates, government and California’s beverage companies to work together to help people reduce sugar consumption while at the same time protecting consumers’ pocketbooks and the small businesses that are so vital to our communities,” he said.

Last week, Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill banning local taxes on groceries, including soft drinks, for at least a dozen years. The measure doesn’t negate the tax on sugar-sweetened beverages already enacted by four California cities.