This month, the Berkeley Healthy Child Coalition (BHCC), a group of Berkeley parents, educators, residents, dentists, and organizations, urged the Berkeley City Council to place a sugary tax drink tax on the November 2014 ballot.
The proposed ballot measure, called the Healthy Child Initiative, would place a one-cent-per-ounce tax on distributors of soda, sports drinks, energy drinks, and sweetened iced teas. Small businesses, however, would be exempt from paying the tax.
“We are here to take a stand to protect the health of our children,” said Dr. Vicki Alexander in a recent press release. Dr. Alexander is a BHCC co-chair and former director of Maternal Child and Adolescent Health for the City of Berkeley.
In addition to causing dental cavities, sugary drinks like soda have been linked to Type II diabetes, coronary heart disease, hypertension, and obesity. But its consumption is only rising among youth ages 2 to 17.
“This is Berkeley versus Big Soda,” said Marian Mabel, PTA Co-President at Malcolm X Elementary and BHCC member. “We know that they are going to come out swinging. But our kids’ health is more important than corporate profits.”
According to the BHCC, tax drink revenues would be used to support programs that have proven to be successful in remedying the impact of sugary drinks, including programs that improve public health and child nutrition.
In 2012, the city of Richmond placed a sugary drink tax on the ballot, but it failed to pass. If the Healthy Child Initiative passes in November, Berkeley will be the first city in the country to pass a sugary beverage fee. (A similar tax on sugary drinks is being proposed in San Francisco.)