Votes have been cast, ballots counted and the results are in! And we’re not only talking about the Presidential election or the U.S House and Senate. We’re referring to two Golden State cities Richmond and El Monte, Calif., which overwhelming rejected a penny-per-ounce tax proposal on sugar-sweetened beverages.
As of this writing, 68 percent of voters said no to Measure N in Richmond, and 76 percent of voters said no to Measure H in El Monte.
Voters joined a coalition of hundreds of businesses, labor and community activists to reject beverage taxes because they saw it as wrongheaded and ineffective. Local businesses feared the new taxes would put them at a competitive disadvantage with neighboring cities that don’t have to pay the tax. And voters understood that taxes don’t make people healthy – diet and exercise do that.
Incredibly, major newspapers in California editorialized against the taxes. The Los Angeles Times declared that taxing beverages is “the wrong approach to fighting obesity.” The San Francisco Chronicle stated: “It's neither fair nor wise to specifically target sodas for a special tax” and Contra Costa Times correctly pointed out that “Excess weight and obesity cannot be curtailed with a tax -- and certainly not in just one city. The government role should be education.”
We agree. The bottom line is – proposed soda taxes have proven time and time again to be unpopular with voters. It’s just not the role of government to dictate what we can and cannot put in our grocery cart. And most importantly, taxes don’t make people healthier. They have no place in the many meaningful initiatives our industry is leading to do our part to combat obesity.