In addition, the CMA and CDA measure seeks to unwind the state legislature’s compromise reached in June with the beverage industry. It would amend the state constitution to allow new local taxes on sugar-sweetened drinks.
The proposal still needs the signature of 585,407 registered voters to qualify for the 2020 ballot. Proponents have until early March 2019 to submit the signatures.
The American Beverage Association has spent millions of dollars around the country in the past decade to defeat soda tax efforts or to fight warning label requirements.
“Everyday grocery shoppers in California are struggling with affordability in the state — from housing to transportation to taxes,” the ABA said in a statement. “Rather than further driving up costs at the supermarket, we believe there is a better way for health advocates, government and California’s beverage companies to work together to help people reduce sugar consumption while at the same time protecting consumers’ pocketbooks and the small businesses that are so vital to our communities.”
Last year, California Assemblyman Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica, introduced a statewide measure that would have taxed sugar-sweetened beverage products to fund programs in communities to reduce diabetes, obesity and heart disease, as well as dental disease.
However, Assembly Bill 1003 failed to pass the legislature. There were also earlier attempts to tax sweet drinks statewide, but they too were defeated by the industry although the city of Berkeley passed the nation’s first tax on sugary drinks in 2014.
According to AB 1003’s analysis presented to the Assembly Health Committee last year, “California is facing a diabetes and obesity epidemic, yet spends less than any other state on prevention.” It estimates nearly 2.5 million Californians, or almost one out of every 10 people in the state, live with diabetes and another 13 million residents have what’s considered “pre-diabetes.”
At the same time, the state analysis indicated that the national obesity rate more than doubled among adults and tripled among children in the period from 1980 to 2010. It also claims the rates are higher in low-income communities.
Besides Berkeley, three other cities in San Francisco Bay area have taxes on sugary drinks, including Oakland, San Francisco and Albany. The sugary-drink taxes from the four cities combined generate an estimated $25 million annually, according to state estimates.