Archive of Press Releases


Yes on D Victory Statement: Measure D Passes with Wide Margin!

Press Release
November 4, 2014

Contacts:
Sara Soka, 608-698-3707
Campaign Manager, Yes on D/Berkeley vs. Big Soda

[Berkeley, CA] On Tuesday, November 4, Berkeley resoundingly approved Measure D, becoming the first city in the country to successfully levy a tax on sugary drinks. Early election returns, reported by Alameda County at 11:00pm, show Measure D leading by 73% yes votes to 27% no with 23% reporting.

“We fully expect other communities to take on the soda industry and succeed,” says Yes on D Co-Chair Dr. Vicki Alexander. “Berkeley has a proud history of setting nationwide trends, such as nonsmoking sections in restaurants and bars, curb cuts for wheelchairs, curbside recycling, and public school food policies. But many communities have the same ingredients that made Measure D possible in Berkeley: proactive parents and community leaders who care about the health of their kids.”

Shortly after Richmond’s soda tax fell short at the polls, community leaders and elected officials formed the Berkeley Healthy Child Coalition, comprised of parents, academics, doctors, health organizations, local nonprofits, and many others. Over a year of grassroots organizing culminated in a dramatic and emotional city council meeting on February 2014. “I will never forget that night,” says Vice-Mayor Linda Maio. “The comments from the public and fellow council members were inspiring. Berkeley spoke with a single voice: we need a soda tax.” The Berkeley City Council eventually voted unanimously to place Measure D on the ballot.

By September, the breadth of Measure D’s endorsements was unprecedented. “We built a broad, diverse, inclusive community coalition, and this – more than anything else – is what enabled Measure D to pass,” says Yes on D Co-Chair Josh Daniels, who also serves as President of the Berkeley School Board. “Despite spending millions, Big Soda never really stood a chance.”

“The Yes on D campaign is part of a much larger movement of people who are not content to sit by while preventable, diet-related diseases decimate the next generation,” says Martin Bourque, Executive Director of Berkeley’s Ecology Center and a founding member of the Coalition. “We stand on the shoulders of all of the communities that fought Big Soda before us – especially our neighbor, Richmond.” The Yes on D campaign was bolstered by an array of allies, including leaders responsible for Mexico’s successful soda tax campaign, public health experts from the tobacco prevention movement, and national public health organizations and individuals that supported the campaign with much-needed resources in the final stretch.

While Measure D’s passage marks the end of the election campaign, the Coalition will continue its advocacy. “We worked hard to get the measure passed and will work just as hard to get it implemented,” says Yes on D Campaign Manager Sara Soka.

“Berkeley has been striving to improve the health of our children for over two decades,” says Xavier Morales, Executive Director of the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California and Coalition member. “Measure D is simply the latest manifestation of this struggle.”

The Measure D campaign is emblematic of the many battles taking place in which local communities are fighting corporate behemoths. “Corporate interests are distorting our democracy with obscene amounts of money,” says Dr. Alexander. “Berkeley has proven that a community that comes together can prevail against giant corporate interests.”


Will Berkeley be the First US City to Pass a Soda Tax? Come Be Part of History!

Yes on D Election Night and Post-Election Press Events

Press Advisory
November 3, 2014

Contacts:
Sara Soka, 608-698-3707
Campaign Manager, Yes on D/Berkeley vs. Big Soda

[Berkeley, CA] On election night, the Yes on D campaign will gather en masse to eagerly follow election returns that determine the fate of the two-year grassroots campaign to tax sugary beverages in Berkeley. Press is invited to attend the gathering and celebration from 8:00pm - 10:00pm. Spokespersons from the campaign and coalition will be on hand to engage with reporters.

The campaign will issue a press release late Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning.

On Wednesday, November 5, the Yes on D campaign will hold a press event to respond to Tuesday night's election results. The press event will take place at 11:00AM at the YMCA Teen Center, located at 2111 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way in Berkeley. The following speakers will deliver statements on the status and future of Measure D and take questions:

Vicki Alexander, MD
Co-chair of Berkeley Healthy Child Coalition, former Director of Black Infant Health Program for City of Berkeley

Laurie Capitelli
Berkeley City Councilmember, District 5

Xavier Morales, PhD
Berkeley resident, Executive Director of the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California, and Co-Director of Latinos Unidos de Berkeley

Larry Tramutola
Political strategist for Yes on D campaign

Kad Smith
Berkeley resident, Ecology Center Staff and Canvasser for Yes on D, Youth Healthy Food Advocate


Robert Reich and Local Filmmaker Jacob Kornbluth Screen Yes on D Film at Get-Out-the-Vote Rally

For Immediate Release
October 29, 2014

Contacts:
Sara Soka, 608-698-3707
Campaign Manager, Yes on D/Berkeley vs. Big Soda

[Berkeley, CA] On Sunday, November 2 at 11:00AM, Robert Reich and local filmmaker Jacob Kornbluth will screen Berkeley vs. Big Soda – the short film they created about Measure D – at the Yes on D campaign headquarters, located at 2225 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley. The video is based on Reich’s widely published column, in which he discusses push-polling by the American Beverage Association and the impact of big corporate money on democracy. The video debuted last week on Upworthy, the website for viral videos with a progressive bent, and has been viewed about 850,000 times, mostly via Facebook.

Reich and Kornbluth will speak briefly after the short film about Berkeley’s Measure D: why they decided to get involved and the national implications of this local initiative. Their appearance will serve as the inspirational kick-off to Sunday’s get-out-the-vote efforts.

Robert Reich is the Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies, and was Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration. Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written thirteen books, including the bestsellers Aftershock and The Work of Nations and his latest, Beyond Outrage. He is founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause. His new film, Inequality for All, is now available on Netflix, iTunes, DVD, and On Demand.

Jacob Kornbluth is an award-winning, Berkeley-based writer and director of feature films, TV, and theater. His most recent film, Inequality for All, won the special jury prize for excellence in filmmaking at Sundance 2013. In 2014 he worked on the Emmy-winning Showtime series about climate change, Years of Living Dangerously, which is executive produced by James Cameron, Arnold Swartzenegger, and Jerry Weintraub. With Robert Reich, he co-directs the Economic Inequality Media Project, which makes short films that explain economic issues in a way that everyone can understand.


National Public Health Allies Step In to Support Berkeley Soda Tax

Campaign Statement
October 16, 2014

Contacts:
Joshua Daniels, 510-717-1185
Yes on D Campaign Co-Chair/Berkeley School Board President

Sara Soka, 608-698-3707
Campaign Manager, Yes on D/Berkeley vs. Big Soda

[Berkeley, CA] National public health allies are stepping in to support Yes on D, Berkeley’s grassroots, community-driven soda tax campaign, now that Measure D has taken on nationwide importance. Measure D is a local, one-cent-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks, levied upon distributors. As Election Day approaches, Measure D has become a possible tipping point within the wider public health movement to reverse the diabetes epidemic.

“The Berkeley community has always been proactive about the health of our children, and Measure D grew from our commitment to the next generation. However, the diseases related to sugary drinks are not confined to Berkeley – this problem is national in scope,” says Yes on D co-chair Dr. Vicki Alexander. “We are thrilled to receive support from our public health allies around the country who are fighting this same fight against Big Soda.”

Last week, the American Heart Association and Center for Science in the Public Interest both made significant contributions to the Yes on Measure D campaign ($23,000 and $15,000, respectively). "Sugary drinks promote obesity, diabetes, and other deadly diseases," says Michael F. Jacobson, Executive Director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest. "Health advocates nationwide are hoping that Berkeley says yes to Measure D, yes to preventing disease, and no to the soda industry's self-serving spin."

Yesterday, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, supporter of public health initiatives worldwide including the successful Mexican soda tax, announced a contribution of $85,000 to the Yes on D campaign. “We supported the Mexico Soda Tax and now Measure D because they are good public policies proved to improve children’s health,” says Howard Wolfson, an advisor to Michael Bloomberg.

The mission of the American Heart Association is to build healthier lives by preventing heart disease and stroke. If successful, Berkeley’s Measure D may present a roadmap for other communities to follow. From nonsmoking sections in restaurants to public school food policy, Berkeley has set public health policies that have been adopted in California and nationwide.

“This is a local, grassroots campaign, and we are grateful to find support in the larger movement,” says Martin Bourque, Executive Director of Berkeley’s Ecology Center, which has also contributed significantly to the campaign. “We have learned much from our allies who fought Big Soda in Richmond and Mexico. The American Beverage Association is trying to crush all of us who are proactively fighting the diabetes epidemic. But we’re in it for the long haul. Sooner or later, the tide is going to turn.”

After accounting for these recent contributions, the Yes on D campaign is still being outspent more than 7-to-1 (approximately $1.7 million to approximately $235,000) based on the most recent available information. Over 90% of Yes on D’s campaign contributions are $500 or less. No on D’s smallest campaign contribution is $300,000.


Big Soda Copies Big Tobacco’s Strategies Against Measures D & E

 

Record-Setting Campaign Contributions from Soda Lobby Flood Bay Area

For Immediate Release
October 6, 2014

Contacts:
Joshua Daniels, 510-717-1185
Yes on D Campaign Co-Chair/Berkeley School Board President

Sara Soka, 608-698-3707
Campaign Manager, Yes on D/Berkeley vs. Big Soda

Maureen Erwin, 925-451-5183
Yes on E/Choose Health SF

[Berkeley, CA] The floodgates of corporate dollars have opened even wider in Berkeley and San Francisco. The American Beverage Association continues to break records of local campaign spending. On October 1, the soda lobby wrote another $600,000 check to fight Measure D in Berkeley, bringing their corporate-funded campaign war chest there to $1.4 million. By the close of business today, San Francisco will learn how much the ABA has spent so far to defeat Measure E.

At the same time, Measures D and E continue to rack up endorsements from heavy-hitters. The American Heart Association, American Academy of Pediatrics - California, and the YMCA of the Central Bay Area have recently endorsed Measure D, while Measure E has gained the support of the San Francisco Chronicle and former Mayor Art Agnos.

“Whether it’s Big Tobacco or Big Soda, these corporations are not looking out for our best interests. Already, Big Soda has spent more money to defeat Measure D than the proposed beverage tax would generate in a year to fund essential health and nutrition programs for our kids. The amount of money is obscene,” says Martin Bourque, Executive Director of Berkeley’s Ecology Center. Bourque will speak at Tuesday’s press event in San Francisco.

Carol McGruder, a seasoned veteran of California’s tobacco control experience and Co-Chair of African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council, will also speak at the press event. "Between cheap sugar-laden beverages and candy-flavored tobacco products, African American and Latino children are at an alarmingly high risk for a double death sentence of diabetes and nicotine addiction,” says McGruder. “They reap their billion dollar profits, while we get sick and die. We won't be manipulated by Big Soda or Big Tobacco. Today we tell them: hands off our children."

According to Holly Scheider, Outreach Coordinator for Healthy Child Coalition and former Tobacco Policy Coordinator for Contra Costa County, “The sugary beverage industry is doing exactly what the tobacco industry did: everything in their power to quash local initiatives.” They threaten and file lawsuits. They claim that local measures will hurt the economy, particularly small business. They hire consultants to contradict mountains of conclusive data that connect their products to harm. They cry “freedom of choice!” and “don’t trust politicians!” With ads, billboards, and mailers, they attempt to sow confusion and distract from the very real problems that communities are trying to solve. In short, they are trying to buy inaction.

Soda: the Series – a series of conversations on the impacts of sugar-sweetened beverages – continues this week with “Is Soda the New Tobacco?” at the UC Berkeley School of Law. Stanton Glantz (Professor of Medicine, UCSF), Mark Pertschuk (Director of Grassroots Change, former Director of Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights) and Lynn Silver (Senior Advisor, Public Health Institute) will draw parallels between Big Soda’s and Big Tobacco’s attempts to confuse the public and prevent action in the face of growing evidence. They will explore the history of the tobacco control movement and highlight successful approaches that ultimately enabled positive change. Soda: the Series is sponsored by the Berkeley Healthy Child Coalition, Ecology Center, Public Health Institute, Prevention Institute, and Small Planet Institute.


Soda Industry Money Floods Berkeley to Undermine Community-Driven Measure

For Immediate Release
September 22, 2014

Contacts:
Joshua Daniels, 510-717-1185
Yes on D Campaign Co-Chair/Berkeley School Board President

Sara Soka, 608-698-3707
Campaign Manager, Yes on D/Berkeley vs. Big Soda

Dear Fellow Berkeley Resident:

You may not know it, but if you are registered to vote, you have already been contacted by Big Soda. The slick mailers and constant phone surveys have all been paid for by Big Soda. And it is about to get worse. Last week, Big Soda’s lobbying arm – the American Beverage Association – made the largest single campaign contribution in the history of the City of Berkeley.

Big Soda’s half million dollar contribution is unprecedented and is an attempt to fundamentally undermine our democracy. Never before has this kind of corporate money been unleashed on Berkeley voters. They are trying to buy an election. Instead of engaging in a genuine discussion of the health issues at stake, they are suffocating discussion through a tidal wave of political ads that attempt to confuse voters, obscure the science, and mischaracterize the measure.

They have done this before elsewhere. Two years ago, the American Beverage Association and friends wrote checks totaling $4.1 million to defeat Richmond and El Monte’s soda tax measures. It is also reminiscent of Big Tobacco, which spent millions of dollars trying to convince voters that their products were completely safe, long after the medical and public health community knew otherwise.

So the next time you get a phone call from someone asking you about your views on Measure D or the soda tax, follow the example of Robert Reich and ask who is paying for the survey.

The next time someone knocks on your door with the same talking points, remember that Measure D is unanimously endorsed by the entire city council, the entire school board, the NAACP, the League of Women Voters, Alice Waters, Michael Pollan, and many, many more (see below). In contrast, the “No Berkeley Beverage Tax” or “No on D” campaign, which describes itself as “a coalition of citizens, businesses, and community organizations,” is really just the American Beverage Association.

As Robert Reich recently wrote, “If a soda tax can't pass in the most progressive city in America, it can't pass anywhere. Big Soda knows that, which is why it's determined to kill it here.” We can’t let corporate dollars destroy our democracy.

Sincerely,
Your Friends and Neighbors from the Yes on D Campaign

 

The Yes on D campaign is endorsed by the following organizations, businesses, elected officials, and residents:

ACLU Berkeley/North East Bay Chapter
Alameda – Contra Costa Medical Association
Alameda County Democratic Party Central Committee
American Academy of Pediatrics – California
American Heart Association
Berkeley Democratic Club
Berkeley Dental Society
Berkeley Federation of Teachers
Berkeley NAACP
Bette's Oceanview Diner
Cafe Leila, Berkeley
California Nurses Association
California Public Health Association - North
East Bay Stonewall Democratic Club
Ecology Center
Healthy & Active Before 5
Healthy Black Families
John George Democratic Club
Kiwi Pediatrics Medical Group
Latinos Unidos de Berkeley
League of Women Voters (Berkeley, Albany, Emeryville)
Lifelong Medical Care, Inc.
National Women's Political Caucus - Alameda North
Prevention Institute
Public Health Institute
Smoke BBQ, Berkeley
The Natural Grocery Company
Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club
Mayor Tom Bates
Councilmember Linda Maio, District 1
Councilmember Darryl Moore, District 2
Councilmember Max Anderson, District 3
Councilmember Jesse Arreguin, District 4
Councilmember Laurie Capitelli, District 5
Councilmember Susan Wengraf, District 6
Councilmember Kriss Worthington, District 7
Councilmember Gordon Wozniak, District 8
Judy Appel, Berkeley School Board Member
Joshua Daniels, Berkeley School Board President
Karen Hemphill, Berkeley School Board Member
Beatriz Leyva-Cutler, Berkeley School Board Member
Julie Sinai, Berkeley School Board Member
Robert Reich, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy, UC Berkeley
Loni Hancock, California State Senator
Nancy Skinner, California State Assemblymember
Keith Carson, Alameda County Board of Supervisors
Michael Pollan, Knight Professor of Journalism, UC Berkeley
Alice Waters, Founder, Edible Schoolyard Project; Executive Chef, Founder of Chez Panisse
Dr. Vicki Alexander, Berkeley City Health Director, Retired
Martin Bourque, Executive Director, Ecology Center
Ann-Marie Hogan, Auditor, City of Berkeley
Marty Lynch, CEO of LifeLong Medical Care
Xavier Morales, Executive Director, Latino Coalition for a Healthy California
Dr. Lynn Silver, Senior Advisor, Public Health Institute
Lisa Stephens, Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board; Former Chair, Parks & Rec Commission
Tony Thurmond, Candidate for California State Assembly
Alice Walker, Author

The following image is from the campaign and for press to include with articles and publications.


Measure D Holds Ground Against Industry-Funded Lawsuit

For Immediate Release
September 2, 2014

Contacts:
Joshua Daniels, 510-717-1185
Campaign Co-Chair/Berkeley School Board President

Sara Soka, 608-698-3707
Campaign Manager, Berkeley vs. Big Soda

Contact Present at Friday’s Hearing:
Eric Gorovitz, 415-730-4944
Campaign Volunteer

[Berkeley] Today, Judge Evelio Grillo upheld language in Berkeley’s Measure D that describes the sugary drink tax as a tax on distributors, not consumers. “We are very satisfied with the outcome,” says Eric Gorovitz, a Berkeley parent and Measure D supporter who attended Friday’s hearing. “This lawsuit was an expensive tactic to bully Berkeley and distract from the fact that Big Soda’s products are causing serious health epidemics in our community.”

“The language of the measure is settled and sound, and we are on a roll, picking up important community endorsements,” says Sara Soka, Campaign Manager for Berkeley vs. Big Soda. The night before the hearing, Measure D received the endorsement of the Berkeley Democratic Club, which voted overwhelmingly (183 to 13, with 5 abstaining) to support Measure D after hearing a debate between Berkeley Council Member Laurie Capitelli and Matt Rodriquez, a PR consultant hired by the American Beverage Association. The League of Women Voters also recently chose to endorse Measure D.

Both of the plaintiffs who brought the lawsuit against the City are affiliated with the American Beverage Association. Leon Cain is employed by Rodriguez Strategies, the LA-based PR firm hired by the soda lobby to fight Measure D. Cain registered to vote in Berkeley on August 4, 2014 and sued the city ten days later. Anthony Johnson, is employed by Edelman, the San Francisco firm with expertise in litigation communications that boasts of “preserving the reputation of the American Beverage Association when threatened with a childhood obesity lawsuit.”

“The soda industry knows that they can outspend us, but they can’t out-campaign us. Measure D has broad and deep community support,” says Martin Bourque, Executive Director of the Ecology Center. To date, financial disclosures of donors for No Berkeley Beverage Tax have revealed only one major contributor: the American Beverage Association, which has donated $300,000.


Soda Industry Insiders File Lawsuit Over Berkeley's Measure D Tax Language

Industry-funded lawsuit seeks to stymie community-driven effort to tax sugary drinks

For Immediate Release
August 27, 2014

Contacts:
Joshua Daniels, 510-717-1185 
Campaign Co-Chair/Berkeley School Board President

Eric Gorovitz, 415-730-4944
Campaign Volunteer

[Berkeley] Industry-funded opponents of Berkeley's soda tax are suing the City of Berkeley over phrases in the Measure D ballot statement. The case will come before Judge Evelio Grillo of the Alameda County Superior Court on Friday, August 29th.

"No matter how many lawsuits Big Soda brings, they cannot escape the truth that their products are making our kids sick at epidemic levels. The industry simply doesn't want to acknowledge the science and the statistics," says Josh Daniels, BUSD school board member and co-chair of the campaign.

One of the plaintiffs who brought the lawsuit is Leon Cain, an Associate at Rodriguez Strategies, the LA-based PR firm hired by the American Beverage Association to fight Berkeley's Measure D. He registered to vote in Berkeley on August 4, a requirement to be a plaintiff. He sued the city 10 days later. Initially, Cain sought to recruit an existing Berkeley resident to be named as plaintiff. He approached Jacquelyn McCormick, who is running for City Council in Berkeley's District 8. "He wanted to know if I knew anyone who might be willing to put their name on the suit," says McCormick, who declined because she supports Measure D. "I told him I didn't think he could find a soul in Berkeley who would want to be part of the lawsuit."

The second plaintiff, Anthony Johnson, is believed to be employed by Edelman, the San Francisco firm whose litigation communications group boasts of "preserving the reputation of the American Beverage Association when threatened with a childhood obesity lawsuit."

"The opposition has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on push polls, focus groups, and PR firms from LA. Now they've hired one of the most expensive election law firms in California to bully Berkeley with a lawsuit," says Sara Soka, campaign manager for the pro-Measure D coalition. The tactic is familiar: two years ago, the American Beverage Association funded a similar lawsuit against El Monte's proposed soda tax measure, alleging biased ballot language.

"Measure D is backed by a large, grassroots coalition of Berkeley residents who have been dedicated to the health of our children and community for years," says Martin Bourque, Executive Director of the Ecology Center. "The sugary beverage tax will be on the ballot in November, no matter how much money outside corporate interests spend on frivolous lawsuits."

To date, financial disclosures of donors for No Berkeley Beverage Tax have revealed only one major contributor: the American Beverage Association, which has donated $300,000.


Berkeley City Council Votes Unanimously to Place Soda Tax on November Ballot

Supporters Rally for Health and Social Justice, Anticipate Corporate Counter-Attacks 

For Immediate Release
July 2, 2014

Contacts:
Sara Soka, 608-698-3707 
Berkeley vs. Big Soda

Xavier Morales, 602-793-8867
Latino Coalition for a Healthy California

[Berkeley, CA] On Tuesday July 1, the Berkeley City Council voted unanimously and enthusiastically to place a soda tax measure on the November 2014 ballot. If voters approve the measure in November, Berkeley would be the first US city to tax sugar-sweetened drinks. Councilmembers are bracing for a fight. “We expect the soda lobbyists to spend upwards of $5 million against us in Berkeley and to spread misinformation,” said Council member Laurie Capitelli, “but elected officials have the right and the responsibility to protect public health.”

Berkeley’s proposed soda tax is the latest in a long line of community efforts to improve the health of Berkeley’s children and erase health disparities. From the Edible Schoolyard to the School Lunch Initiative to Farm Fresh Choice, Berkeley has been a hotbed of innovative programs that have gained national attention. The group behind the soda tax – the Berkeley Healthy Child Coalition (BHCC) – is an alliance of parents, educators, residents, public health professionals, dentists, and community organizations. "We are here to take a stand to protect the health of our children," says Dr. Vicki Alexander, BHCC co-chair, former director of the Black Infant Health Program for the City of Berkeley, and a 2014 recipient of the Berkeley's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award.

Berkeley’s soda tax, as well as San Francisco’s soda tax proposal, is part of a larger public health movement to stem excessive sugar consumption and the diseases it causes. The beverage industry, i.e. “Big Soda,” has spent millions of dollars on lobbying, advertising, and political contributions to kill soda tax and soda labeling initiatives in California, the US, and Mexico. "This is Berkeley versus Big Soda," says Marian Mabel, PTA Co-President at Malcolm X Elementary and a member of the BHCC. "We know that they are going to come out swinging. But our kids' health is more important than corporate profits."

In 2006 alone, soda companies spent nearly $600 million advertising to children under 18. "Sugary drinks have grown ever more exaggerated in size and more aggressively marketed to our kids by Big Soda, causing more harm to their health. The Berkeley Soda Tax will reduce consumption, protect health, and raise money to address critical community needs," says Dr. Lynn Silver, pediatrician and Berkeley Unified parent, as well as a Senior Advisor for Chronic Disease and Obesity at the Public Health Institute.

A 2011 report from Yale's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity found beverage companies increased television ads in 2010 and aggressively targeted black and Latino kids with ads to promote their most sugar-laden drinks. Black children and teens saw 80 to 90 percent more ads compared with white youth. "These are the same communities that are suffering from disproportionate rates of diabetes, obesity, and heart disease," says Xavier Morales, Berkeley parent and Executive Director of the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California. “This is both a health and social justice issue.”

“Big Soda will claim that we are attacking a product that is beloved by low-income folks,” says Councilmember Capitelli, “but those are the people who are coming to us and asking us to put this on the ballot.” Prior to Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, supporters rallied on the steps to the Council Chamber, waving signs and offering testimony about personal and family health challenges. “Fifteen years ago, only 3% of new cases of child and adolescent diabetes were Type II (once known as adult-onset),” said Dr. Robin Winokur of Kiwi Pediatrics at the rally. “Today, 45% of new cases are Type II.”

Fifty years ago, the Surgeon General’s office released its landmark report linking cigarette smoking to cancer and disease. In the years that followed, smoking was transformed from an issue of individual consumer choice, to one of epidemiology, public health, and risk. Sugary drinks are following a similar trajectory: the last decade has seen an avalanche of research and medical studies linking “liquid sugar” to poor health outcomes and substantial public health costs.

While Big Soda fights to increase their profits, communities like Berkeley are fighting for the health of the next generation.


 

City Council Will Vote Tuesday Night to Place Soda Tax on Berkeley Ballot

Big Soda May Encounter Uphill Battle in Berkeley

For Immediate Release
June 30, 2014

Contacts:
Sara Soka, 608-698-3707
Berkeley vs. Big Soda

Xavier Morales, 602-793-8867
Latino Coalition for a Healthy California

[Berkeley, CA] On Tuesday July 1, the Berkeley City Council will vote on whether to place a soda tax measure on the November 2014 ballot. The proposed measure is a one-cent-per-ounce general tax on distribution of high-calorie, low-nutrition beverages like sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, sweetened iced teas, and the syrups used to make fountain drinks. It does not apply to milk products, infant formula, and natural fruit and vegetable juice. The soda tax has been strongly supported by Berkeley Councilmembers and is anticipated to pass. If voters approve the measure in November, Berkeley would become the first U.S. city to to tax sugar-sweetened beverages.

Two independent polls have found broad support for Berkeley's soda tax, with almost two-thirds of Berkeley voters in favor. The measure has garnered endorsements from a fast-growing list of local organizations, businesses, and community leaders, including the Berkeley Chapter of the NAACP, Berkeley Federation of Teachers, Berkeley Council of Classified Employees, Ecology Center, Berkeley Dental Society, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Berkeley Natural Grocery, The Public Health Institute, author Michael Pollan, and Lifelong Medical CEO Marty Lynch. A recent UCLA study found the highest support for soda taxes among people of color, low-income residents, and Spanish speakers.

Berkeley's soda tax measure would establish a Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Product Panel consisting of experts in the areas of public health, child nutrition, nutrition education, and food access programs. The panel's purpose is to advise the City on how and to what extent they should fund programs designed to reduce sugary drink consumption and address the health consequences of their consumption.

"The evidence shows that sugar-sweetened beverages are more strongly linked to chronic disease risk than any other thing we eat or drink," says Dr. Patricia Crawford, a UC Berkeley nutrition expert. The Institute of Medicine recently reported that 20% of the population weight increase in the United States between 1977 and 2007 is attributed to sugar-sweetened beverages alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control, one third of all Americans born in 2000 and almost half of African Americans and Latinos born in 2000 will develop diabetes within their lifetimes.

"Berkeley wants a better future for our kids and our health," says Berkeley Unified School District Board President Josh Daniels. "A future where one in three kids ends up diabetic is unacceptable. The soda tax measure is an effort to make sure that future never occurs."

 

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As of January 2017, Berkeley’s soda tax has generated more than $2.5 million for community nutrition & health efforts, including school garden programs.