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Update November 20th, 2015: Results have been coming in for the first no-soda-tax city, a year since the implementation of a penny-per-ounce tax was put in place.
The tax has raised $693,000 in the first six months, which is actually surpassing predictions that were set at $1.2 million for the first year. Although concrete data is not accounted for yet in terms of researching the true impact on consumers sugary drink consumption, the city is upholding the promise to use the collected monies for health initiatives.
In May, the council allocated $500,000 to community-based healthy child/family programs, with half going to the Berkely Unified Scholl District’s Cooking and Gardening Program.
Small businesses are saying that the taxes is hurting their sales, as customers choose to go to other stores where larger chains promote discounted sodas, or customers are altogether choosing a store outside of city limits to avoid taxes.
However, public health officials say the taxes are making an impact for the better, as the interim results were presented to the American Public Health Association in Chicago on November 3rd, 2015. Public Health officials in the area hope to see the continued progress of a decrease in sugary drink consumption and an onward spur of other states starting to implement similar initiatives.
Original post, published: May 21, 2014
The Berkeley City Council agreed to put a sugary drink tax on a community poll assessing possible ballot measures for the November 2014 election. The poll will also test opinions on a commercial vacancies tax, a business license tax on rental housing, and a bond and tax measure for parks.
The proposed tax is a penny-per-ounce tax on drinks with added caloric sugar which would include sodas, iced teas, Italian sodas, sports and energy drinks, sweetened coffees, and sweetened ice teas. The tax would not apply to milk, milk products, alcohol or drinks that are taken for medical reasons.
Many community organizations support the measure, including Latino Coalition for a Healthy California.
After the community poll of 500 likely voters showed that the sugary drink tax would have majority support, the Berkeley City Council agreed to move forward and vote on the inclusion of the measure on the November 2014 ballot. Read more.
Final approval on ballot language is scheduled for the July 1 meeting of the council.
UPDATE: The Berkeley City Council unanimously approved placing a one-cent-per-ounce soda tax measure on the November ballot. Now it’s up to residents to decide if they want to see a soda tax in the City’s future.
NOVEMBER 2014 UPDATE: Voters in Berkeley voted in favor of the sugary drink tax; preliminary results show around 75% voted in favor. This makes Berkeley, California the first jurisdiction in the U.S. to successfully enact a one cent per ounce excise tax on sugary drinks. For Latinos and African Americans who suffer disproportionately from sugar-related illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, and stroke, this win is particularly meaningful. Read a statement from the Public Health Institute on this historic vote.
May 2015 UPDATE: The City announced the new sugary drink tax brought in $116,000 in its first month, which was in-line with previous projections. Read more here.