Speed Reads


San Francisco and Berkeley voters split on sugar tax

Two different cities, two different votes: They're just a few miles apart, but voters in San Francisco rejected a tax on soda, while Berkeley voters approved a similar measure.

In San Francisco, 55 percent of voters supported Proposition E, which would have taxed soda and other sugary beverages, but a two-thirds majority was needed to pass. In Berkeley, Measure D needed just a simple majority, and with 23 percent of the vote in, 73 percent of voters approved. "What this shows is that a community can come together and fight for kids' health regardless of the outrageous amounts of money spent against their interests," Martin Bourque, a spokesman for the Berkeley measure, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "The tides have clearly turned on Big Soda."

Supporters of both measures say that sugar is behind such health epidemics as obesity and diabetes, arguing that if there is a tax on soda and other sugar-laden beverages, a person might reach for a bottle of water instead. Opponents say that people should be able to make their own decisions on whether or not to drink sugary beverages, and since more low-income people drink soda, a tax would hurt them.

Proposition E would have charged 2 cents per ounce on soda and some juices, coffee drinks, and flavored water. It could have brought in $35 million to $54 million in revenue, with that money funding nutritional and physical education programs for children. In Berkeley, it will be a 1 cent per ounce tax, and that money will go to the city's general fund.