Assemblymember Nazarian Moves to Restore Local Control and Bring New Revenue and Health Equity to California Cities
As the COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the urgent role of local health authorities, the Public Health Institute supported a bill introduced by Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian to restore local governments' right to enact taxes on sugary drinks, a proven tool to protect public health. Local measures to tax sugared beverages have been shown to lower consumption and raise revenue for local health equity programs.
(Sacramento, CA) Today, Assemblymember Nazarian (D-Van Nuys) introduced legislation to eliminate the statewide preemption on local sugary drink taxes, a measure forced upon the legislature by the soda industry in 2018 that was described by the Sacramento Bee as a “shakedown”. As California counties and cities are considering all options to close their unprecedented budgetary shortfalls, Assemblymember Nazarian believes the legislature should give municipalities access to every revenue-generating option, especially one that simultaneously improves public health outcomes.
“Our cities have their hands tied behind their back by sugary special interests who place profits over people during a public health crisis,” stated a fiery Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian. “A tax on sugary drinks has been proven to decrease diabetes rates and improve health equity while providing our cities additional revenue to help our COVID-19 response.”
Removing the preemption is not a tax, rather it would provide governments another tool in their toolbox to address health equity and fund critical services.
As COVID-19 continues to disproportionately affect Black and Brown communities in California, research shows that communities of color also have a disproportionately higher risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes in their lifetimes, in part due to the overconsumption of cheap sugary drinks flooding into their communities. Diabetes is a risk factor for severe COVID and the LAO has also highlighted the health proposition behind a sugary drink tax “of potentially leading to improvements in health—such as reduced rates of heart disease and diabetes.”
“The proliferation and targeted promotion of sugar-sweetened beverages to marginalized communities makes it a racial and health equity issue,” said Rod Lew, MPH, Executive Director of Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy and Leadership (APPEAL), “And in this era of renewed attention on racial justice, we must support proven policy initiatives that puts the health of our communities first. One of the first steps is to remove State preemption banning local taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages.”
Six cities including Los Angeles and 3 counties including Contra Costa have already either passed a resolution or written a letter in support of lifting preemption, and dozens of additional cities and counties are currently reaching out with interest. Currently, the City of Berkeley’s soda tax is raising $1.5 million for its residents, Oakland around $7 million, and San Francisco $15 million. Revenues have been directed towards schools and nutrition programs, both of which have served as critical resources for families during the pandemic.
“In 2018, Big Soda stole the ability of California communities to decide for themselves how to stay healthy,” said Matthew Marsom, Senior Vice President of the Public Health Institute. “Amidst the devastating impacts of COVID, Assemblymember Nazarian’s bill will untie the hands of communities: giving them back power, choice and another tool to restore health and equity, and rebuild economies.”
Assemblymember Nazarian added: “Special interests should not be dictating policy to our cities. This bill gives power back to the people.”
Assemblymember Nazarian is proud to have the support of American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy and Leadership, California Black Health Network, California Dental Association, Latino Coalition for a Healthy California, The Praxis Project, Public Health Advocates, Public Health Institute, Roots of Change and Social Justice Learning Institute.
Adrin Nazarian represents the 46th Assembly District, serving the San Fernando Valley communities of Hollywood Hills, Lake Balboa, North Hills, North Hollywood, Panorama City, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Toluca Lake, Valley Glen, Universal City, Van Nuys, and Valley Village
Originally published by Assemblymember Adrin Azarian