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How big food companies are using the gun and tobacco industry playbook to thwart bold public health laws

December 10, 2018

The New Food Economy,

Sam Bloch,

December 6, 2018-

Last summer, Coca-Cola held California hostage over soda taxes. If you haven’t encountered them—or the many debates surrounding them—soda taxes are cents-per-ounce surcharges that local governments, from San Francisco to Philadelphia, levy on “sugar-sweetened beverages.” The benefits of these taxes, while often disputed, are by now pretty evident, and twofold. First, in the matter of money: Soda taxes can add millions of dollars to cities’ coffers, and are often earmarked especially to fund public services.

Second, in public health: The taxes have been shown to reduce consumption of that super-popular, super nutritionally void sugar bomb that’s linked to obesity and hundreds of thousands of deaths from diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer every year in some cases by as much as 21 percent. Since the first city, Berkeley, California, passed its soda tax in 2014, other Golden State cities have followed, including San Francisco, Oakland, and Albany. Others, like the smaller city of Richmond, were preparing to put a soda tax on the ballot during the recent midterm elections.

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