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The Nation's First Soda Tax Passed in Berkeley, California

An overwhelming majority voted in favor of a tax of one cent per ounce.

Joe Raedle

For the first time in the nation's history, a law taxing calories has passed. Yesterday, voters overwhelmingly passed Measure D in Berkeley, Calif., which puts a one-cent-per-ounce tax on everything from energy drinks to Pumpkin Spice Lattes to Coke. It's a landmark decision in a nation still caught within the clutches of Big Food even as it struggles to shed a decade-long obesity epidemic.

Voters in San Francisco did not pass Proposition E, which would have added a 2-cent-per-ounce tax on sodas and other sugary drinks. A 66 percent majority was required for the proposition to pass; it received 54.5 percent. In nearby Berkeley, Measure D adds nearly 12 cents to the price of each can of soda and 68 cents to the cost of a two liter bottle, according to CNN.

Berkeley is the first city to pass this so-called "sin tax." Notably, a long campaign to tax soda and sugary drinks in New York City failed during Mayor Bloomberg's reign. A similar measure was also rejected in Washington, D.C.

"Berkeley has a proud history of setting nationwide trends, such as non-smoking sections in restaurants and bars, curb cuts for wheelchairs, curbside recycling and public school food policies," said Vicki Alexander, co-chair of the group campaigning to pass Measure D, in a statement published by USA Today. The passing of the measure was a loss for soda manufacturers, who had banded together to lobby against the law with a $10 million dollar campaign.

Still, while Berkeley can claim to be ahead of the rest of the nation in enacting a tax on soft drinks, only time will tell if such a measure will have an affect on waistlines. Or, if the tax will simply help line city government coffers.

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