Soda Taxes

Berkeley Passes Sin Tax on Soda

But San Francisco rejects a similar measure.


The city of Berkeley, California, took another step away from its freewheeling past yesterday. Politico reports:

The day they put the mind of a cop into the head of a hippie.
Berkeley Barb

Berkeley, Calif., a city known for its progressive politics, made history Tuesday night by approving the first real sin tax on soda in the United States.

Voters approved Measure D, a penny-per-ounce tax, by a three-to-one margin after a bitter campaign battle, with the beverage industry spending more than $2.1 million to oppose the initiative. The pro-tax campaign was bolstered by more than $650,000 from former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Berkeley has now done what more than two dozen other cities and states have tried and failed to do in recent years: Put in place a punitive tax on sugar sweetened-beverage tax designed to reduce consumption and raise revenue. The measure, which covers sports drinks, sweet teas and beverage syrups used in coffee shops, would raise the price of a 20-ounce Coca-Cola by about 10 percent. The tax, which does not apply to diet sodas, kicks in Jan. 1, 2015.

The prohibitionist impulse fared more poorly across the bay, where a similar measure failed in San Francisco.

Speaking of local referendums and the regulation of people's pleasures, I should also note some happy news from South Portland, Maine, where voters approved a ballot measure decriminalizing the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana. That has understandably received less attention than legalization's big victories yesterday in Alaska, Oregon, and D.C., but it's still worth noting. Celebrate with the burning weed or sugary beverage of your choice.

NEXT: Mia Love Becomes First Black Republican Congresswoman

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  1. What kind of loser would vote to raise the price of soda? I just don’t understand this.

    1. What kind of loser


      That kind.

    2. Bloomberg

      1. I get the feeling that Bloomberg drank soda in his youth and he now resents it because he thinks it stunted his growth.

        1. +1 Napolean and coffee

    3. The kind that believes that whatever differences there may be between their preferred bottles of artisanal organic tea and Coke REALLY MATTER.

    4. Matty Yglesias argued in favor of that. In fact, he didn’t even stop at soda – he argued in favor of a sin tax that included diet soda.…

      Because that’s how he rolls.

  2. They showed those Coke Brothers!

    1. Nice one!

      Also, are you an all-natural Juice? Or are you sweetened Juice from concentrate? Basically, should you be taxed in Berkeley or not?

  3. The city of Berkeley, California, took another step away from its freewheeling past yesterday

    That’s because, as far as leftist views on the right to put what you want into your own body goes, Berkeley’s past was an anomaly. Anti-narcotic laws started primarily in the Progressive Era, and right now the only real reason leftists have any sympathy for drug legalization is nostalgia for the hippie era. Transfats, tobacco, soda, energy drinks, marijuana… one of these things is not like the others.

    As I’ve said before, if drugs had never been illegal and were therefore sold by corporations like the other things on that list, today we’d be seeing liberals railing against Big Cannabis and holding congressional hearings to accuse R. J. Reynolds of using their cartoon Mary Jane mascot to target children.

    1. One thing: the MJ industry has made it clear that the market wants to be a boutique industry (more like winemaking), and that JRJ et al. would depend on a state-imposed hyper-regulatory scheme with high barriers for entry to compete in such a market.

  4. They call themselves “progressives,” but a finer example of neo-puritans would be hard to find.

    Subsidizing birth control is fine but sugar should be taxed? I no understand.

    1. Subsidizing birth control is fine but sugar should be taxed?

      Because the only freedoms liberals care about are those involving sex. In their eyes, the government may not under any circumstances enter your bedroom, but once you leave the bedroom, government power over you is total and limitless.

      Hmm. Maybe gays should devise a new sex act involving soda, fatty/salty snacks, and tobacco. Liberals’ brains would implode trying to figure out whether to endorse or condemn it.

      1. Because the only freedoms liberals care about are those involving sex for women and gay men.


        1. Only so long as women and gay men are oppressed.

          Once cis-gendered bepenised whitey becomes oppressed, he will benefit from progressive egalitarianism.

          1. Excellent, once we are all oppressed, we can be equal!

      2. Why limit it to gays?

        Heteros can be just as creative in this area, I think…

        1. Sure, but then to prove that he wasn’t a rapist, the male participant would have to have a signed and notarized document of consent from the female participant, in triplicate, inked in blood, sworn on a copy of Andrea Dworkin’s Intercourse.

    2. People love to accuse libertarians of being arrested adolescents.

      But if I’m looking for arrested adolescents, I focus on people who are utterly obsessed with sex.

      Which would seem to be a lot progs, who spend vast mental energy and political capital on the topic. Naturally, the same can be said of many SoCons.

  5. …a penny-per-ounce tax… raise the price of a 20-ounce Coca-Cola by about 10 percent.

    Where the hell do they buy their Coca-Cola? A bar?

    At the grocery a case could be 40 cents a bottle, making it a 50% rise in price.

  6. So they’re going to use taxes to encourage people to drink whatever high-sugar, high-caffeine beverage is next on their list of ordinal preferences while incentivizing the development of a black market in soft drinks.

    1. Berkeley is pretty small, and next to Oakland and Emeryville and El Cerrito, all of which will get increased business because of this.

  7. BarbBerkeley, Calif., a city known for its progressive politics

    It’s all pretty much expected when you realize that progressives are not liberal. Progress can be in any direction, including an illiberal one.

  8. Berkeley people can just go less than two miles down the road to Emeryville and buy bulk sodas at the big box stores there. So this is completely pointless. As for me, I like water, and coffee, and coffee, and coffee. But I don’t try to punitive tax things I dislike.

    1. Butnot the poor people. Next step, subsidized taxi rides to out-of-town big-box stores to avoid the oppressive soada tax!

    2. Berkeley ppl voted for this crap, why now drive out of town to avoid this noid?

  9. At least people who own sodastream machines can feel culturally superior, which is the important thing.

    1. You do know SodaStream is an Israeli company, and Israel oppresses the innocent people of Palestine, forcing some of them to become suicide freedom fighters, don’t you? Even Scarlett Johansson got in trouble for endorsing them.

      1. Sweet. I’m going to have to go out and buy one, now.

  10. The tax, which does not apply to diet sodas, kicks in Jan. 1, 2015.

    Diet sodas are much worse for you though. They fool your body into thinking you’re getting something good for you, but all you’re getting is flavor (and aftertaste). Widespread diet soda consumption may be responsible for much of the obesity and diabetes in America.

    I don’t always drink pop, but when I do, I drink regular pop. I’ve never seen a skinny person drinking diet soda.

    1. This argument is dumb. Diet sodas enabled me to easily cut my calories to sustainable levels and overcome my addiction to sugar (which is addicting, unlike “sweet taste”), something I’ve sustained for years while maintaining net weight loss, all while not having to give up soda (which I love).

  11. I suppose it’s only a matter of time before they put a sin tax on SUVs and non-Organic food.

    How dare you desecrate Mother Earth, sinners!!

  12. “designed to reduce consumption and raise revenue.”

    Yeah, that makes sense if you don’t think about it.

  13. avalanche

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