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San Francisco And Berkeley Take On Soft Drink Industry

Aired 7/8/14 on KPBS News.

The cities of Berkeley and San Francisco are taking on the soft drink industry, with soda-tax measures on the November ballot.

San Francisco and Berkeley are vying to be the first cities in the nation to approve a special tax on sugary drinks.

Both cities have placed soda tax measures on the November ballot.

There are no plans to do so in San Diego, but soda consumption here remains a concern.

In San Diego County, studies show 40 percent of kids 17 and under drink at least one soda a day.

Experts say sugary drinks are a major contributor to obesity. One in three San Diego kids are overweight or obese.

Soft drink companies say it’s unfair to single out their products, especially when they plainly list calories and ingredients on their labels, but Cheryl Moder, director of the San Diego County Childhood Obesity Initiative, disagrees.

“Sugar-sweetened beverages are being targeted because of their unique and proven harm that they cause," Moder explained. "Sugar-sweetened beverages are the biggest contributor of empty calories in the American diet.”

The ballot measures in Berkeley and San Francisco would impose a one or two cents per ounce tax respectively on sugary drinks. The soft drink industry spent heavily to defeat a soda tax measure in the city of Richmond in 2012.

A bill that would have required labels warning that sugary drinks contribute to obesity and diabetes failed in the California Legislature earlier this year.

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