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Berkeley’s Groundbreaking Vote to Approve Soda Tax, while San Francisco Soda Tax Fails to Pass Despite 55% Majority Vote

Published: 11/10/14
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Twitter summary: Berkeley becomes first US city to pass a tax on soda w/ 75% approval - SF fails to pass its soda tax with 55% approval

This past election day, two soda taxes went up for the vote in Berkeley and San Francisco. The city of Berkeley voted in overwhelming support of the soda tax, passing it with 75% approval – a groundbreaking decision as the first US city to pass a tax on soda. In San Francisco, the soda tax received 55% of the vote, but needed two-thirds majority to pass. Supporters of the San Francisco Tax still hold the election as a positive sign though, as getting a majority vote is still quite notable.

Berkeley’s tax adds one penny per fluid ounce (so 12 cents per typical soda can) on all sugary sodas (not including diet sodas), juices with added sugar, energy drinks, and syrups that go into drinks at cafes (e.g. a Starbucks Frappuccino). The tax is on the distribution companies, and all revenue from the tax goes to Berkeley’s general fund. According to the measure, a panel of health and nutrition experts will make recommendations to the Berkeley City Council on how to use that money to fund initiatives for improving children’s health. Berkeley is the first city in the US to pass a tax on soda, after 30 cities and states (now 31, with San Francisco) have failed to do so in the past. -AJW

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