California’s legislature rushed to pass a last-minute measure that bans cities and counties from passing soda taxes until 2031. The bill was passed to stave off a ballot initiative backed by the soda industry that would have made it much harder for municipalities to hike any type of tax.
With judges split 5-2, the Pennsylvania Comonwealth Court upheld Philadelphia's 1.5-cent-an-ounce tax on sweetened beverages, the second win in court by the city, said Philadelphia Magazine. "Still, the ruling doesn’t conclude the soda tax war," said the magazine, because the American Beverage Association and local businesses could appeal to the state Supreme Court.
The nation’s first soda tax, Berkeley, California’s one-cent-per-ounce levy, hasn’t impacted retail businesses, but it has reduced soda purchases by 9.6 percent, says a new study by the University of North Carolina.
In "the opening shot of 2017," health advocates filed suit in federal court in Oakland, Calif., accusing Coca-Cola and the trade group American Beverage Association of deceiving consumers of the health risk of sugary drinks and saying there was no link between sugar-sweetened beverages and obesity, says Quartz. Coca-Cola said the lawsuit was "legally and factually meritless."
The American Beverage Association, a soda industry group, said it will suspend payments to health experts speaking against soda taxes on social media, said the Associated Press.
The electoral tussles over 1-cent-per-ounce soda taxes in San Francisco and Oakland are becoming two of the most expensive campaigns in California this year with more than $46 million in donations, says public broadcaster KQED. The American Beverage Association has spent $28.7 million in fighting the taxes, said KQED, noting the nationwide ramification of referendums.
A good-government group, the Civic Federation of Chicago, backed the proposed 1-cent-an-ounce on sugary beverages for Cook County, the second-most populous county in the country and home to Chicago. The County Board will vote on the tax, part of a $44 billion budget for fiscal 2017, in mid-November, roughly a week after four cities vote on soda taxes.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, the beverage industry is spending millions to convince voters that the proposed soda tax will raise their grocery prices, not just the cost of sugary drinks, says Bridget Huber in FERN’s latest story, produced with PRI’s The World.
The consumer group Center for Science in the Public Interest says the two major U.S. soft-drink bottlers, Coca-Cola and Pepsi, and the trade group American Beverage Association "have spent a minimum of $67 million since 2009 to defeat soda taxes and warning labels in 19 cities and states." Four cities will vote on local soda taxes on Nov. 8, and there are published reports in Chicago that the president of the Cook County Board is looking at a tax on sugary beverages.
IA San Francisco federal judge ruled that the city has the right to force sugary beverage companies to post health warnings in display ads for their products, says The San Francisco Chronicle. The law, which is the first in the nation, was challenged in court by the American Beverage Association, the California Retailers Association and the California State Outdoor Advertising Association. It will take effect on July 25th.