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San Francisco Takes Up the War on Soda

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Berkeley has joined the battle too.

Justin Sullivan

Though ex-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was unsuccessful in his attempt to limit soda sizes, that's not stopping San Francisco and Berkeley, Calif. from going to war with the soda industry. According to NPR, both cities are proposing adding a tax — a two-cent-per ounce tax and a penny-per-ounce tax, respectively — on sugary drinks.

Both cities note that the drinks' relationship with the ongoing obesity crisis and other health related problems are harmful. SF would like to use the funds raised by the proposed tax towards "childhood nutrition and recreation," while Berkley would like to add it to the "city's general fund."

Soda companies are quite worried about the proposed taxes however: Unlike cigarette smokers who are completely addicted to tobacco, "soda drinkers are less tolerant of price increases" and would most likely change their behavior (which is precisely the point), resulting in lower profits. The soda industry's main lobbying group — the American Beverage Association — has spent nearly $10 million combined fighting the proposed taxes in both cities. The serious spending signals that they are incredibly worried that this anti-soda campaign will gain serious traction in the Bay Area and become a reality, unlike in New York. This makes sense considering that San Francisco is one of the nation's healthiest cities

Some soda companies have proposed making cans smaller — and charging more — to cut calorie counts, a solution that would have made Bloomberg very happy. An analyst tells NPR that Coca-Cola makes 100 percent more revenue per ounce on its 7.5-ounce mini-cans. Local residents will vote on the proposed taxes November 4.