Newsom Promises Plan to Tax Soda

Retailers would have to pay city to sell sugary drinks

By Jackson West
|  Friday, Sep 18, 2009  |  Updated 3:30 PM PDT
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Newsom Promises Plan to Tax Soda

Nick Ares

What a tax on sweet drinks doesn't address is how heavily soda is marketed, particularly to children.

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Citing a new study from UCLA which pegs the cost of California's obesity epidemic at $41 billion, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom declared that by this fall he will ask the Board of Supervisors to levy a "sin tax" on retailers who sell soda.

The idea is that if the tax is passed along to consumers as higher prices on the soft drinks, they won't drink as man of the empty calories derived from high fructose corn syrup.

It's also a way for the city to help generate revenue without having to raise more direct measures like the sales tax.

Jim Lazarus of the Chamber of Commerce isn't pleased, saying the tax unfairly targets one surgary product over others, such as candy.

While not citing details on how much the plan will charge retailers, or where the money will go, in previous statements Newsom suggested the money should go to health programs for children.

"It makes sense for the government to help people to make the right choices, and it makes sense to use dollars from charges on sweetened beverages on health programs," declared the mayor.

Marianne Favro contributed to this story. Photo by Nick Ares.

Jackson West hasn't quit smoking, and will probably continue to enjoy the ocassional Coca-Cola, regardless.

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