San Francisco city leaders have approved a measure for the November ballot that would place a two-cents-per-ounce municipal tax on sodas and other sugary beverages, hoping to become the first major city to successfully impose such a levy.
Other U.S. cities have tried and ultimately failed to tax sugary drinks. Among them have been Richmond, California, across the bay from San Francisco, where a penny-an-ounce tax was defeated after a multimillion-dollar campaign by the American Beverage Association.
San Francisco's plan, which was approved on Tuesday night by a 6-4 vote of the board of supervisors, would be applied to any nonalcoholic, sweetened drink with more than 25 calories per 12 ounces.
A spokesperson with Coalition for an Affordable City: Stop Unfair Beverages Taxes, a project of the American Beverage Association, said that if the city wants to educate people about health issues it should do so without taxing the most needy.
San Francisco's office of economic analysis estimates that the tax would bring in $35 to $54 million per year and, if it's passed directly on to consumers, as expected, it could reduce consumption by 31 percent.
Income from the tax would go towards funding city programs to improve food access, health and nutrition.
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