Last week Berkeley citizens made their voices heard, voting 75.12 percent in favor of Measure D. Berkeley is the first city in the nation to approve a tax on sugary beverages, which include soda, sports and energy drinks, and juice and café drinks made with added sugars.
The message? The community is ready to take a stand on soda and other unhealthy foods.
Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and sugary drinks are no small part of that equation. In addition to obesity, soda contributes to type II diabetes, coronary heart disease, and hypertension. Its consumption has steadily risen among youth ages 2 to 17.
It’s long been time to change the trend, and Measure D is just the beginning.
Big Soda spent nearly $2.5 million in advertising campaigns against the beverage tax. This tactic has worked in over 30 other U.S. cities, but Berkeley voters could not be deterred. Supporters of Measure D hope the price hike will help to reduce soda consumption, encouraging people to choose a bottle of water or unsweetened beverage instead.
According to the AP, tax proceeds will raise more than $1 million per year that will go to the general fund and support community health programs.
The hope is that Berkeley is just the beginning, and more cities will be inspired to follow its lead. San Francisco nearly passed a similar beverage tax, getting the majority of votes but failing to get the two-thirds vote required for passage.
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