- Davis, CA is joining in the soda tax debate. A pro-tax group rallied earlier this week in the hopes of encouraging the city council to address a potential 1-cent per ounce soda tax.
- Supporters argue that a soda tax can help combat obesity in the community, but opponents say it is more about financial gains for the government and could hurt local businesses by reducing sales and raising costs.
- Mid-February is the deadline for the Davis City Council's decision as to whether to add the soda tax to the ballot. If the city council includes the tax, the initiative could have the same voter support it had in Berkeley.
California has been at the center of soda tax activity in the U.S. Berkeley, CA passed a sugary beverages tax in November 2014, and San Francisco considered a similar tax that same month, though the initiative couldn't round up the two-thirds support it needed to pass. It's too soon to tell what kind of health impacts Berkeley's sugary beverage tax has had on the local community. But prices of soda for consumers have risen by about seven-tenths of a cent per ounce, which means consumers pay for about 70% of the penny per ounce soda tax.
In November, public health advocates announced that they would be pushing for soda tax legislation in up to a dozen cities across the U.S. this year, so this initiative may not stay bound by California's borders for long. Legislators against soda taxes have been vehement that a tax would not actually change consumers' behaviors and could even have unintended consequences, such as rerouting soda money to other junk food. Last month, the United Nations entered the debate with its recommendation that countries across the globe consider implementing a tax on junk foods, particularly sugary beverages.
If soda companies want to stop these taxes from cropping up across the country, manufacturers will need to reposition productions. This could come through packaging innovations, like mini-cans, which offer an alternative to those monitoring sugar intake, or ingredient reformulation, such as using natural sweeteners instead of high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners. Or, they could change consumers' perceptions of soda through aggressive lobbying and marketing campaigns, which major soda manufacturers and beverage associations have already been quick to invest in.