residents to vote on soda tax in November
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[July 02, 2014]
By Jennifer Chaussee
BERKELEY Calif. (Reuters) -
A California college town known for its liberal activism
will vote in November on whether to place a
penny-per-ounce tax on sugary beverages, touching off
the latest obesity-fighting campaign in the United
Berkeley City Council voted unanimously to add the measure in the
form of a referendum on the city's ballot, drawing cheers of support
from residents and health advocates, and vows to fight from the U.S.
food and beverage industry.
"When we pass this measure in November, Berkeley will be the first
in the country where such a measure has been passed," said Vicki
Alexander, a co-chairwoman of a local campaign to put the measure on
the ballot. "We are very excited to see that day happen."
Public health advocates across the country have clamored for ways to
reduce consumption of sugary drinks and junk food, but lawmakers and
voters have generally opposed enacting taxes or other regulations.
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's plan to limit the
sale of large sugary drinks was rejected on June 26 by the state's
A California bill to require sugary soft drinks to carry labels
warning of obesity, diabetes and tooth decay died in the California
Legislature on June 17.
Two California cities, Richmond and El Monte, failed two years ago
in their attempts to become the first in the country to impose taxes
of a penny per ounce on businesses that sell sugary drinks.
Revenues from Berkeley's tax, if it passes, would go toward the
city's general fund.
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"It's disingenuous because there's nothing in this measure that's
going to education. This goes right into the general account. It's a
money grab," said Ted Mundorff, CEO of Landmark Theatres, which has
movie theaters in Berkeley.
A Berkeley vending machine executive said her company would be
forced to pass the tax on to consumers in order to stay in business.
A city survey of 500 likely voters showed majority support for the
tax in April.
(Reporting by Jennifer Chaussee in Berkeley, California; Writing by
Eric M. Johnson; Editing by Toby Chopra)
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