As we learn more about the impact of Berkeley beverage tax the results are grim.
The tax, which was sold on the promise of having a positive impact on public health in the city, has failed to show such results. On the other hand, the tax has had devastating effects on local small business that have been hit hardest.
In a column for The Hill, economist Brad Williams explains that as beverage sales grow outside the city lines, store owners who continue to operate their businesses in Berkeley are struggling to stay afloat.
“Corner stores, groceries, cafes, restaurants, and other small businesses that rely heavily on beverage sales are being especially hard hit, hurting working people who are trying to make ends meet in a wealthy city that is pricing them out.”
And at what cost? Proponents of the tax have argued that the tax has had the intended impact on public health. However, Berkeley residents ended up increasing their total calorie intake from beverages by 32 calories a day because of an increase in their consumption of untaxed products like milk shakes, yogurt smoothies and horchatas.
The data speaks for itself. The Berkeley tax has not made anyone healthier, but instead has had a devastating impact on local businesses.