SACRAMENTO, California – A new push by the beverage industry slows the expansion of soda tax in California and elsewhere.
California cities pioneered soda taxes to combat obesity, diabetes and heart disease. But Legislature and Governor Jerry Brown on Thursday bowed to pressure from beverage makers and reluctantly banned local taxes on soda for the next 12 years.
It follows similar bans recently adopted in Arizona and Michigan. Oregon voters will pass a nationwide ban in November. The American Beverage Association, which represents Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and others, has supported the measures after several cities have passed taxes on sugary drinks in recent years.
California's ban is part of a last-minute maneuver to block a beverage industry-a voting decision that would make it much harder for cities and counties to levy taxes of any kind. The ABA said in a statement that legislation is about making food, including drinks, affordable.
Legislators approved the proposal despite deep restraint.
"This industry targets a nuclear weapon against the government in California and says," If you do not do what we want, we'll pull the trigger and you will not be able to fund basic government services, " said Senator Scott Wiener, a Democrat from San Francisco, who has a mineral oil tax. [1
But local government officials, startled by the prospect of having their hands tied "I have been in politics for a long time and sometimes you have to do what is necessary is to avoid a disaster, "said Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg An increase in sales tax would be risky if the electoral vote had expired.
The governor said that only one handvo ll communities want to levy taxes on soda, but the electoral decision would affect all 482 cities in California.
"Mayors of Countless Cities have called for the alarm to be heard and to strongly support the compromise this bill represents," Brown wrote in a memo explaining his decision.
The Californian measure bans new taxes on groceries, including drinks, by 2030, but allows four cities in the San Francisco Bay Area to keep soda taxes on their books.
The beverage industry has used aggressive campaigns to repudiate soda taxes and other measures. But some soda tax efforts are now getting better funding. Former New Yorker Michael Bloomberg, a billionaire who unsuccessfully tried to limit the size of sugary drinks sold in the city to 16 ounces, has been funding some local efforts.
Philadelphia, Seattle and Boulder, Colorado also have taxes on sugary drinks.
After Brown signed the legislation, the California Business Roundtable pulled back a ballot box that raised the threshold for local government tax increases.
Nancy Brown, Chief Executive Officer of the American Heart Association, asked for a meeting with Governor Jerry Brown after the Sacramento Bee reported drink industry lobbyists this month with Brown and his wife Anne Gust Brown at the Governor's Mansion in Sacramento
Brown spokesman Evan Westrup said that the governor did not negotiate the deal, the dinner was not related.
Public health officials said taxes are the most effective tool they are to keep people from drinking soda, sports drinks, sweetened coffee, and tea and other sugary drinks.
Beverage companies spend billions promoting their products that health care professionals can not match, said Kristine Madsen, a physician and associate professor of public health at the University of California, Berkeley led a study showing a 20 percent reduction consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages in low-income areas in the year following the entry into force of the city tax. Grocery sales fell 8 percent, a figure that was not fully offset by higher sales in neighboring cities.