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Soda Tax Debates in Berkeley and San Francisco: An Analysis of Social Media, Campaign Materials and News Coverage

  • Berkeley Media Studies Group; John Snow, Inc.
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In 2014, voters in the cities of Berkeley and San Francisco, California, were asked to decide whether to place an excise tax on sugary drinks sold within their borders. Berkeley made history when it passed the nation’s first tax on sugary drinks, despite an aggressive anti-tax campaign from the beverage industry. San Francisco’s measure was approved by the majority of voters but failed to reach the two-thirds majority it needed to pass.

Given the prominence of these two policy battles and the likelihood that more will follow, PHI’s Berkeley Media Studies Group looks at the social media, campaign materials and news coverage of the soda tax debates in Berkeley and San Francisco. What stories did tax advocates and opponents tell? How were the soda industry, its products and its spending characterized? Who was quoted in the news coverage, and what did they say? What lessons can the coverage offer advocates and other stakeholders seeking to improve health in their communities by regulating sugary drinks?

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Originally published by Berkeley Media Studies Group


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