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"Truth and Evidence < Deep Pockets, Deceptive Tactics": PHI statement on AB138 Delay

April 22, 2019

STATEMENT FROM MATTHEW MARSOM, VICE PRESIDENT, PUBLIC HEALTH POLICY AND PROGRAMS

"AB138, the California Community Health Fund bill authored by Assemblymember Richard Bloom and co-sponsored by the Public Health Institute that would have added a two cent tax to soda purchases, has been named a "two-year" bill. This would hold the bill in the Assembly Committee on Revenue & Taxation, ensuring it won't move forward through the legislative process until next year.

"California voters don't want to wait. They have overwhelmingly supported soda taxes in local communities across the state; they know that inaction won't stop the mounting toll of diabetes and other chronic diseases on their families. Public health professionals, doctors, dentists and community advocates strongly back the science and evidence behind levying a tax to pay for the impacts of liquid sugar on health.

"Still, truth, evidence and a moral imperative to advance and health and equity are no match for the deep influence, deeper pockets and deceptive tactics of Big Soda. Last summer, through a statewide pre-emption bill, Big Soda stole the right of communities to be able to even put soda taxes on local ballots—even if that’s what local voters wanted. Now, they’ve hamstrung a statewide effort after spending big to influence legislators.

"As we’ve seen on a national level, intimidation and deception can sometimes prevail in the short term—and can even undermine the collective will of the people. It is not too late for the voters of California to rally together and tell Big Soda we won’t let them steal our ability to decide what is best for our communities. This bill may be delayed, but the Public Health Institute will continue to stand beside Assemblymember Bloom and work with our communities to ensure the health of all Californians is protected and the voices of constituents are heard."