Four More Cities Have Soda Taxes Thanks To Michael Bloomberg’s $18 Million

Thomas Phippen | Reporter

Four cities voted to impose taxes on sodas and sugary drinks Tuesday after a fight that attracted around $50 million from activists and food industry lobbyists.

Three cities in the California’s Bay Area — San Francisco, Oakland and Albany — overwhelmingly passed 1 cent-per-ounce tax on drinks, and Boulder, Colo., voters approved a 2 cent-per-ounce tax, Fox News reports.

“This is an astonishing repudiation of big soda,” Jim Krieger, the executive director of Healthy Food America, told Vox Tuesday. “For too long, the big soda companies got away with putting profits over their customers’ health. That changed tonight.”

Michael Bloomberg, the biggest proponent of drink taxes, has spent $18 million to get all three measures passed. The former New York City mayor has waged a money war with soda advocacy group the American Beverage Association in each city, and the fight cost more than $50 million, the LA Times reported.

In total, Bloomberg has given more than $18 million to three measures in the Bay Area, with $9.3 million in support of Proposition V in San Francisco, Calif. and dropped another $9.1 million to advance Measure HH in nearby Oakland. The San Francisco and Oakland proposals, along with a proposal in the smaller Albany, would impose a 1 cent-per-ounce tax on sodas.

The fight in Boulder attracted a total of $1.54 million from both sides, making it the most expensive ballot measure in the small town’s history. Bloomberg donated about $200,000 to support the campaign measure 2H in Boulder, which would impose a 2 cent-per-ounce tax on sugary beverages sold in the mountain town.

The Philadelphia, Pa., city council passed a tax on soft drinks in June of this year, after Bloomberg donated more than $1.4 million. Berkeley, Calif., was the first city in the nation to pass a soda tax.

The American Beverage Association, a trade group for soda and other drink producers, has fought soda tax measures all over the country.

“We oppose them wherever they are introduced — that is a clear position that we have staked out,” Susan Neely, the association’s president, told the New York Times before the election. “That is not going to change.”

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