California city tests waters for soft
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[February 26, 2014]
By Laila Kearney
BERKELEY, California (Reuters) - A
California city is to consult its citizens on whether to impose a soda
tax on sugary drinks, following failed bids by other local governments
to pass similar measures.
The Berkeley City Council will gauge local voter support for a
penny-per-ounce tax - opposed by most of the soft drinks industry
but which its backers say could help to curb obesity and diabetes -
in an opinion poll next week.
Depending on the outcome, it might include a referendum on
introducing the tax in a city-wide ballot in November.
Other U.S. cities have tried without success to enact such a tax
amid a growing national movement to curb the consumption of
high-calorie beverages. Proposals are under consideration in San
Francisco and the state of Illinois.
Attempts to tax sugary drinks in two other California cities,
Richmond and El Monte, failed in the face of strong opposition from
the beverage industry.
A state judge declared a ban on large sugary drinks by former New
York Mayor Michael Bloomberg illegal, but the state's highest court
agreed in October to hear an appeal.
The American Beverage Association, a trade group, said earlier this
month that a soda tax would have "unintended consequences on
middle-class jobs and small businesses."
It declined to comment on the Berkeley initiative.
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City officials said their proposed tax, which could be one cent per
ounce, would be added at the first point of distribution and
generate between $1.5 million and $3 million in public funds
(Reporting by Laila Kearney in Berkeley, California; Writing by Eric
M. Johnson; Editing by John Stonestreet)
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