- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
The beverage industry is recruiting low-income and minority groups to help share a message aimed at tanking soda-tax measures in Oakland and San Francisco, reported Winston Cho in the East Bay Express.
The industry has poured in $13 million to fight Oakland's Measure HH and San Francisco's Proposition V, the story said. The groups supporting the measures have received contributions of nearly $4 million, making Measure HH one of Oakland's best-funded initiatives ever.
The American Beverage Association is positioning the tax measures as "grocery taxes," saying that low-income consumers will bear the brunt.
"I think the money invested, in addition to the framing — which is specifically not mentioning sugary beverages — suggests that there's a lot of defense in their offense," said Wendi Gosliner, policy researcher at the UC Nutrition Policy Institute.
Patricia Crawford, senior director of research at the Nutrition Policy Institute, told the reporter that justifying the soda tax to the low-income community in Berkeley was an essential part of getting it passed in that community two years ago. NPI hosted multiple town halls when that tax was on the ballot. They invited professors, doctors, and health-care professionals to address the community's concerns.
"People think of soda as just another candy or food, and it isn't," Crawford said. "[The negative impact on public health] is just too costly ... for us to ignore."
In an article Crawford wrote for the UC Food Blog, she reflected on recent research that showed the Berkeley soda tax successfully reduced consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages while raising funds to promote health and wellness activities in Berkeley schools.
"The Bay Area has long been an early adopter of many important ideas, initiating movements that have spread across the country. Will Oakland, Albany and San Francisco follow Berkeley's lead to a healthier future for their communities?" Crawford wrote.