Group photograph of Yes on D workers and volunteers Berkeley vs Big Soda. All photos by Bruce Akizuki.
On November 4th 2014, a broad coalition of Berkeley voters passed Measure D by a 76% majority. The Berkeley Healthy Child Coalition directed the campaign from the beginning that included health care professionals, educators, students, parents, the NAACP and African-American community, and Latinos Unidos, among others. The yes on D Measure is one of the few times when people have defeated Wall Street corporations such as Coca Cola, Pepsico, and Dr. Pepper Snapple Group.
Measure D originated because soda and sugar-laden drinks have caused an increased risk of diabetes and other health problems such as heart and liver disease, obesity, and tooth decay. Soft drink companies target all people but especially African American and Latino youth. People were tired of their deteriorated health and decided to fight back.
The measure taxes soda distributors not consumers and is not a sales tax. As a result, soda companies will pay a one cent per ounce tax. What will be taxed are high-calorie, low nutritional sugar-laden drinks and syrups like soda, energy drinks, juice with added sugar, sweetened tea, and
drinks like Frappuccinos. In practice Measure D will tax the 15-20 soda distribution companies and will be added to their license fees.
The tax revenue is to go into a Berkeley general fund that will create a panel of experts in education and health. These experts will then make recommendations to the city government. The implementation of decisions will then educate the public about the role of sugary drinks health issues, raise income for community groups to combat the influence soda marketing, and hopefully reduce consumption of soft drinks.