SF Supervisors Speak in Favor of Proposed Soda Tax

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    Two San Francisco supervisors joined doctors at a community town hall meeting Monday evening to discuss a proposed tax on sodas and sugary drinks sold in the city. Jean Elle reports. (Published Monday, Mar 24, 2014)

    Two San Francisco supervisors joined doctors at a community town hall meeting Monday evening to discuss a proposed tax on sodas and sugary drinks sold in the city.

    The proposed ballot measure would levy a 2 cents-per-ounce tax on sodas and other sugary beverages. Proceeds would go to city and school nutrition, health and physical education programs.

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    At the meeting, held at St. Mary's Medical Center at 2250 Hayes St., supervisors Scott Wiener and Eric Mar discussed the tax while local physicians, including Lawrence Cheung, president of the San Francisco Medical Society, shared information about the health implications of drinking soda.

    Supporters of the tax have called attention to health issues associated with drinking sugary drinks, such as obesity and diabetes.

    Doctors said they are fighting for children's health.

    "(Soda) contributes to obesity, which in itself puts them at risk of poor self esteem bullying as well as future health concerns," said Dr. Ann Myers, St. Mary's Medical Center.

    Wiener, Mar and Supervisor Malia Cohen are the sponsors of the city's proposed ballot measure for the Nov. 4 election, which would require two-thirds of voters to pass the tax for approval.

    The tax is expected to bring in more than $30 million if approved. Beverage distributors would be charged the tax, which applies to other items such as sports drinks and powders mixed with water.

    Nick Abbas, who owns Sonoma Liquor, said he has put up a "Stop the Beverage Tax" sign on his store window because his customers cannot afford a price hike.

    The 2 cents per ounce tax will increase the cost of soda by 24 cents.

    "You're going to raise it up," Abbas said. "Gonna cost me, but not raising my salary."

    Beverage industry advocacy groups including the American Beverage Association have come out against the proposal. The organization sent out mailers to San Francisco residents earlier this month that aimed to dissuade local support for the November proposal.