Sugary Drink Tax Goes to Supervisors

File photo: A customer purchases a drink at at a Mission Street market.

The Budget and Finance Committee Wednesday voted unanimously to approve a tax of two cents per ounce on bottled sugary beverages like sodas and energy drinks. If, as predicted, the Board of Supervisors approves the proposal next week, the so-called “soda tax” will appear on the November ballot.

Sponsored by Supervisors Avalos, Campos, Chiu, Mar, Wiener and Cohen, the tax targets sugary drinks because of their connection with diabetes and obesity. It is expected to reduce soda consumption by up to 31 percent, generating between $35 and $52 million in revenue in the process.

According to the proposal, the tax revenue would pay for health and nutrition programs at public schools, parks, the Department of Public Health, or community-based organizations. The tax legislation also stipulates that money from the tax will not affect existing government resources for health and nutrition programs—in other words, current funds cannot be funneled away as new money from the tax comes in.

Opponents, including the American Beverage Association-funded campaign Coalition for an Affordable City, argue that the tax unfairly affects low-income consumers. Beverly Masri, who owns the Golden Gate Market and Deli at 25th and Mission streets, is concerned consumers will be misled by the description of the tax.

“Nobody drinks an ounce of soda,” Masri said. A can of soda usually contains 12 ounces, so its price would jump by 24 cents. A large two-liter bottle of soda would cost an additional 68 cents.

Were the proposed sugary drink tax to pass, prices reflected on this sign would no longer be quite accurate.

Were the proposed sugary drink tax to pass, the price of a four-pack at the Fizzary would rise to $8. Photo by Laura Wenus

Ross Mackenzie, one of the owners of the Fizzary on Mission Street, said he thinks the tax would affect a wide spectrum of customers. The specialty sodas that line the walls of his shop might cater to those with more disposable income, but Mackenzie says his customers also include children who come in to spend their allowance on sweet drinks.

If the tax is enacted, Mackenzie said, “People are going to be unpleasantly surprised.” A four-pack of soda from the Fizzary would go from $6 to about $8.

Masri sees the tax as another way for city government to make money, and expressed her skepticism about the effectiveness of the proposal.

“They’re overstepping their bounds, taking on things that parents should be deciding,” she said. “They know people will still buy it.”

The Board of Supervisors is expected to vote on the soda tax proposal Tuesday, July 22.

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  1. mission resident

    One more way for the elite city of SF to tell people how they should live. You are too stupid to make your own decisions so we have to make them for you. They pass this is a heartbeat. Why aren’t they doing this for all the people that can’t support themselves. Unless you are mentally insane. Then you can do whatever you want.

    • Sam

      Yes, the do-gooder nanny-state mob should take a hike. But if they have to do what they do, at least this penalizes the dumb, the poor and (to use that obnoxious phrase) “people of color”.

      At a pinch I support anything the city passes that for once does not demonize affluent straight white males, which this definitely does not. So enjoy it for that, if nothing else.

      • mission resident

        Sam, “at least this penalizes the dumb, the poor and (to use that obnoxious phrase) “people of color”.” Take your racists comments elsewhere.

        This penalizes anyone that drinks soda. FYI, any food in moderation is perfectly fine, including soda and sugary drinks. Believe it or not, ton’s of people drink soda everyday and they are healthy, not fat, and have good teeth.

        You missed the point entirely.

        Up next they are going to tax burgers, candy, dried fruit, orange juice, etc…

        When do people need to take responsibility for their own lives?

        • Sam

          There is a real correlation between consumption of sugary drinks, fast food and other junk, and both race and poverty. That’s a fact.

          That’s not to say that only poor people consume them. But there is a correlation.

          I actually agree with you that the government should butt out on this and most other things. I hate the nanny state. I’m just saying it’s nice to see them prejudiced against poor non-whites, for once. Instead of the usual, mindless “war on rich white males”.

          PS: I make no apology for satirizing the “people of color” epithet, which is routinely used only by those spreading anti-white racism. You have that 100% wrong.

          • mis

            Correlation shmorrolation! Attacking racism with racism just means both of you are racists. You also never get anywhere when you attack the person and not the argument. Everyone needs to take all race out of the equation and maybe we can have a grown up conversation about what is right for all people. Not just a particular color or creed. Both left and right wings need to grow up. The rest of us in the middle are waiting.

      • Russo

        There goes John, er, Sam, whining about white victimhood again. Cry me a river, John, er, Sam.

        • Sam

          Hmm, so was fighting slavery or segregation nothing more than “crying a river” about black victimhood then?

          That’s an interesting take on American history. The racism you oppose is clearly restricted, selective and race-specific.

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