San Francisco jumps into soda regulation debate

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco is getting into the debate over regulating sugary drinks.

San Francisco Supervisor Scott Weiner is set to introduce a ballot measure that would levy a 2-cent-per-ounce tax on all sugar-sweetened beverages sold in the city, the San Francisco Chronicle reported (http://bit.ly/1dDzuoE). A can of soda, for example, would cost 24 cents more.

The money would be used to fund health and nutrition programs for children.

Similar soda tax measures fueled by concerns the drinks are contributing to obesity and diabetes have failed in the neighboring city of Richmond and the Los Angeles County city of El Monte.

But Weiner told the Chronicle that research shows voters are willing to support the tax if the money is used to keep kids healthy.

“I try to cross my t’s and dot my i’s, and I wouldn’t pursue this if I didn’t think it had a chance,” he said.

He plans to introduce the measure this week. It would require approval from a majority of supervisors to get on the November 2014 ballot. To pass, it would need the support of two-thirds of city voters.

Californians for Food and Beverage Choice, a group organized by the American Beverage Association, said in a statement that beverage taxes such as those proposed by Wiener are “unnecessary, wasteful distractions from serious policymaking.”

“Providing people with education, opportunities for physical activity and diverse beverage choices to fit their lifestyles are proven strategies for maintaining health,” the group said.

The San Francisco tax would raise an estimated $31 million a year, the Chronicle reported. It would apply to drinks with 25 or more calories that have added sugary sweeteners and are less than 50 percent fruit or vegetable juice.

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Information from: San Francisco Chronicle, http://www.sfgate.com

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