PHI Statement on the 2016 Bay Area Soda Tax Initiatives
STATEMENT FROM LYNN SILVER, MD, MPH SENIOR ADVISOR, CHRONIC DISEASE AND OBESITY PREVENTION, PUBLIC HEALTH INSTITUTE
The Public Health Institute applauds the sweeping action by voters across the country in San Francisco, Oakland and Albany, and Boulder, Colorado, who successfully took things into their own hands and passed taxes on sugary drinks, protecting their communities from the ravages of chronic disease and poor health. Boulder’s tax is 2 cents per ounce, the highest in the nation, and the others one cent per ounce. Voters supported these measures with 54% in Boulder, 62% in San Francisco, 61% in Oakland and 71% in Albany. PHI congratulates these cities, their residents, and the broad coalitions that made these successes possible.
Oakland, San Francisco, Albany and Boulder are following in the footsteps of Berkeley, CA, Philadelphia, PA and Mexico in taking on the power of the soda industry to improve the health and well-being of their communities. These measures passed in spite of record-breaking spending by Big Soda of over $20 million dollars, and industry campaigns fueled by lies that falsely depicted the fee as a grocery tax.
The writing is on the wall. Voters will no longer tolerate the devastating impact of sugar sweetened beverages on their loved ones and communities. PHI was proud to join a broad coalition of organizations and individuals from all walks of life from the three Bay Area communities in supporting these measures. Their dedication bore fruit today.
The evidence is clear: soda taxes directly reduce sales of unhealthy beverages while also generating millions of dollars to support prevention and build healthier communities. Research measuring the impact of Berkeley’s tax, approved in 2014, found a 21% decline in sugary drink consumption in low-income communities and a 63% increase in water consumption after the tax, as well as a decline in sales of unhealthy beverages while healthier options increased sales, and there was no increase in overall grocery bills (PHI and UNC) in the first six months.
We look forward to similar impact in the communities that passed a tax today and to seeing more soda tax policies established across California, the nation and the globe. Today’s votes on soda tax were a victory for public health, the health of the Bay Area, Colorado and the will of the people.