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Berkeley Votes for Health Over Big Soda Profits: PHI Statement on Passage of Measure D Soda Tax

November 04, 2014

Statement from Lynn Silver, MD, MPH Senior Advisor, Chronic Disease and Obesity Prevention, Public Health Institute

"Today Berkeley, California became the first jurisdiction in the nation to successfully enact a one cent per ounce excise tax on sugary drinks, Measure D.  A resounding 75% of voters are in favor of the measure, a much wider margin than the simple 50% majority needed. PHI congratulates the City of Berkeley, its residents, and the broad coalition that made this success possible.

"Science and common sense proved more compelling than the spending power of big soda. In spite of the fact that beverage front groups poured over $11 million dollars into efforts to defeat Bay Area proposals this year, outspending health advocates by 10 to 1, Berkeley’s residents voted to promote the health of their neighbors over the profits of Big Soda. 

"Berkeley is not unique in its concern for its children and neighbors. Parents want their children to lead long and healthy lives, and obesity remains a top concern for Americans from all walks of life. In passing Measure D, Berkeley is no exception; it has done what it has always done best—made the impossible possible, and paved the way for others to follow its lead.

"In San Francisco, though the measure did not reach the higher threshhold of two thirds needed, a clear majority of voters support the proposed two cent per ounce soda tax. 

"As Berkeley implements Measure D, we expect to see what we’re seeing as a result of soda tax policy in Mexico: decreased soda consumption and more revenues to support local health. PHI will continue to support implementation and other related efforts. We hope to  see other communities and legislators follow their lead, with Representative Rosa deLauro's federal soda tax next on the docket. 

"Measure D's success was rooted in a broad coalition of advocates. PHI joined partners including the NAACP, the League of Women Voters, the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California and leading medical, public health and business institutions, in supporting the measure. Today is an enormous victory for public health, the health of a community and the will of the people."