Soda Taxes

Proposed Anti-Soda Bills in California Would Ban Big Gulps, Mandate Warning Labels on Vending Machines

State legislators are preparing to take the nanny state to the next level

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Andrii Shevchuk/Dreamstime.com

California legislators want to crack down hard on the soda industry with a series of new bills that would prohibit everything from Big Gulps, to stocking sodas near the checkout aisle.

"We have an incredible public health crisis. Obesity and diabetes are at alarming rates, driven by the deception of Big Soda. And certainly what happened last year didn't help," Assemblyman David Chiu (D–San Francisco) told the San Francisco Chronicle.

Last year, the state Legislature banned local governments from imposing new taxes on soft drinks or other grocery items for 12 years in exchange for the beverage industry dropping a proposed ballot initiative that would have required two-thirds support from voters or city councils to pass any new taxes.

Proponents of soda taxes fumed at the tactic, saying the beverage industry's threat to use direct democracy to limit tax increases amounted to holding legislators "hostage," in the words of Sen. Scott Wiener (D–San Francisco), "aiming a nuclear weapon at government in California."

These same sweetened beverage critics are apparently still salty in 2019, giving rise to the sweeping, almost punitive nature of the bills in this new soda package.

One bill, authored by Sen. Buffy Wicks (D–Berkeley) would ban the display of any soft drinks within six feet of a checkout area, save for coffee, tea, 100 percent natural fruit or vegetable juice, or water. Stores that stock unpermitted drinks within reach of the register would be subject to per-day fines of between $1,000 to $5,000, depending on the number of violations.

Another bill, this one from Sen. Bill Monning (D—Central Coast), would mandate prominent black and yellow warning labels on individual soda bottles and cans, cases, and even vending machines warning that "drinking beverages with added sugar(s) may contribute to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and tooth decay."

Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D—Alameda) has similarly introduced a bill that would, according to the Chronicle, "bar soda companies from offering promotional deals to stores to lower the price of sugary drinks for customers."

Chui is sponsoring a bill that would ban Big Gulps or any other "unsealed beverage container" capable of holding more than 16 ounces. Going above that limit could net stores fines of $200 to $1,000.

On top of all this is a proposal by these legislators to impose a new state soda tax, the revenue from which will fund programs targeting obesity, diabetes, and other supposedly soda-induced maladies.

Soda sellers are obviously not happy, and are panning the new measures as heaping huge new costs on low-income consumers and small businesses.

"These kinds of regressive taxes are not supported by the people of California because they place an unfair burden on working families and neighborhood businesses already struggling with the state's high cost of living," said the American Beverage Association (ABA) in statement. The ABA also pointed to polling showing 71 percent support for last year's moratorium on new grocery taxes.

Soda taxes got their start in California, when the city of Berkeley imposed a 1-cent-per-ounce tax on "sugar-sweetened beverages" in 2015. The policy spread to places like Seattle and Philadelphia soon after. The record of these policies is mixed, as each has failed in its own special way.

One study of Berkeley's soda tax, which is held up as a model for the policy, saw a decline in the sale of taxed sugary beverages and increased sales of untaxed drinks like bottled water. That same study however failed to find a link between the tax and declines in individuals' actual consumption of soda.

In Seattle, where a 1.75 cent-per-ounce tax* was implemented in January 2018, revenue has exceeded expectations, bringing in more than $17 million in its first nine months. A study performed for the city found that nearly 100 percent of the cost of the tax was being paid by consumers. That suggests folks are consuming the same amount of soda, but just paying more for the privilege.

Philadelphia's soda tax, meanwhile, has sprouted any number of social ills, including labor strife and the rise of a black market in soda. Soda sales within Philadelphia have cratered, while spiking in stores just outside city limits, according to one study.

As with all sin taxes, there's a contradiction at the heart of California's proposed soda tax: the policy is supposed to both dissuade soda purchases and raise significant revenue from taxing them. To succeed on one metric is to fail on the other.

Legislators are adding to the mix with more onerous, unproven policies that micromanage businesses that sell soda while treating people who drink it like children in need of state-mandated portion controls and bright warning labels.

The details of these new soda policies are still being hashed out, and no committee hearings have been held. Whether they succeed or not, California's reputation as a nanny state will remain intact.

CORRECTION: The original version of this article said Seattle's soda tax was $1.75 per ounce.

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45 responses to “Proposed Anti-Soda Bills in California Would Ban Big Gulps, Mandate Warning Labels on Vending Machines


  1. “We have an incredible public health crisis. Obesity and diabetes are at alarming rates, driven by the deception of Big Soda.”

    What if it’s diet soda?

    1. And what fucking deception by “Big Soda”? Has anyone from Coca-Cola or Pepsi Co. ever said that drinking as much non-diet soda as you possibly can will not have any ill effects?

      FFS EVERYBODY KNOWS IT IS NOT GOOD TO CONSUME TOO MUCH SUGAR!!! But some people just don’t care.

    2. I legitimately hate these people. We have a problem, and I know what’s best for you, so I’m going to use force to get my way.

      You know, you could persuade people to drink less soda, sugared coffee drinks, etc. But no, you wont do that. instead you will use government force to get what you want. What despicable people

      1. To a hammer, everything looks like a nail. If you give a bunch of busybodies power and tell them they are important, inevitably the “crises” start turning up left and right.

    3. Unlike say a bottled Star Bucks coffee drink that has 180 calories (31g of sugar), or say a Lipton peach Iced Tea that has 120 calories. It’s all soda’s fault.

    4. These morons thing every product is controlled by “Big” whatever, don’t they?

  2. If obesity is such a public health crisis, well, you ever seen a fat junkie? Heroin or Ho-Ho’s, fuckers, pick one.

    1. And these morherfuckers have the audacity to try and say that they would never use a single payer system to exert even more control over peoples lives.

      1. The did? Last I heard Newsom is shooting for single payer. Just think, then they could *really* push the nanny state thing: “You drank a soda? Ok, you will have to pay a surcharge for your free medicine”.

  3. would ban the display of any soft drinks within six feet of a checkout area, save for coffee, tea, 100 percent natural fruit or vegetable juice, or water.

    So, no diet coke, but all the OJ you can drink. FFS, fruit juice is packed full of sugar and aren’t really a very good source of vitamins, and don’t have the fiber that eating whole fruit has.

    Also, would a Starbucks Frappucino count as “coffee”? How about sweetened iced tea?

    Fuck I hate these people.

    1. California is struggling with the fact that freedom means the freedom to make bad decisions. So they’re just going to make small little dents in freedom, just try to shave away some areas where people might do the wrong things and limit those options.

      It’s for their own good, after all.

      1. The legislature has the freedom to make bad decisions for us, thus relieving us of the struggle to be moral upright subjects. It’s a tradeoff — they get the freedom to make bad decisions, we get the freedom of not having to make decisions at all.

        Like FDR’s freedoms — we subjects get the freedom to not worry about the elites struggling with the freedom to make bad decisions on our behalf.

  4. “aiming a nuclear weapon at government in California.”

    A Coke bottle and a pack of Mentos is not a nuclear weapon.

    Sweet baby peas these idiots are full of themselves.

    1. UNTIL YOU COMBINE THEM

    2. When it’s a tax on grocery bags it’s the will of the people. When it’s a hurdle for new taxes it’s a nuclear weapon. I’m starting to think that the Dems’ love for direct democracy isn’t exactly authentic!

  5. That is not a valid exercise of government power. Fuck off, slavers

  6. Why don’t they just lobby to have soda not covered by SNAP? They’re obviously not afraid of Big Pop.

    1. Way to just completely other Crackle.

    2. Big Pop identifies as Big Mom. Get woke.

  7. Soda killed Wilfred Brimley.

    Never forget.

    1. I thought it was Quaker Oats that did him in?

  8. Obesity and diabetes are at alarming rates, driven by the deception of Big Soda.
    Obesity and diabetes are at alarming rates, driven by the deception of Big Internet.
    Obesity and diabetes are at alarming rates, driven by the deception of Big Office Work.
    Obesity and diabetes are at alarming rates, driven by the deception of Big Video Games.
    Obesity and diabetes are at alarming rates, driven by the deception of Big Statistics….

  9. OT, and our new outrage war: Jason Reitman Says His Version Of ‘Ghostbusters’ Will “Hand The Movie Back To The Fans”

    “I’m not making the ‘Juno’ of ‘Ghostbusters’ movies,” said the director, while being interviewed on a recent episode of the Bill Burr Podcast.

    From there, Reitman discusses the painstaking lengths he’s willing to go to bring the original look and feel to the new “Ghostbusters” film. Needless to say, hiring the son of the original director means that the studio is getting a very reverential sequel in 2020.

    “This is going to be a love letter to ‘Ghostbusters,’ said Reitman. “I love this franchise. I grew up watching it. I consider myself the first ‘Ghostbusters’ fan. I was like seven years old when that movie came out and I love it. I want to make a movie for my fellow ‘Ghostbusters’ fans.”

    Dismissing women while speaking with well-known misogynist Bill Burr? What is Hollywood up to? My God.

    1. Maybe they can get Bill Cosby out of jail to play the role of Winston?

  10. “Proponents of soda taxes fumed at the tactic, saying the beverage industry’s threat to use direct democracy to limit tax increases amounted to holding legislators “hostage,” in the words of Sen. Scott Weiner (D?California), “aiming a nuclear weapon at government in California.”

    I know Tony and Rev on onboard with this but…

    Sweet Christmas, we can’t let the peons have a say when their betters want something different. Glad the legislators work for the people there in CA.

  11. I will say it again, anyone who still lives in Commifornia should expect what is coming and be prepared to defend themselves.

    The Lefties are so powerless in Washington that they are trying to consolidate power in states that they control.

    They will continue banning things and taking property in Taxifornia until they need to take your remaining assets.

    All this is done by government force with no state constitutional backing. The California constitution does not provide authority for banning products and services.
    CA state Constitution

    1. Yeah, unfortunately, we’re going to get stuck with the bill when CA finally goes bankrupt and needs a bailout.

  12. These same sweetened beverage critics are apparently still salty in 2019…

    Which is it Britches, sweet or salty?

  13. Start working at home with Google! It’s by-far the best job I’ve had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this – 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link,

    ============>> http://www.SalaryHd.com

  14. $1.75 per ounce? So a can of coke costs over $20? Editor? Really?

    1. Editor? At Reason? That’s cute.

    2. That might be on the concentrate.

  15. I’m obese and haven’t touched an sugary soda in 25 years or more. And, BTW, are these fruitcakes going to go after 2 liter bottles of pop? Do they intend to make it illegal to buy more than one small bottle of pop at a time? Will a family of 5 be able to buy 5 bottles of pop? Will there be a sliding scale where skinny people can buy more? Step on the scales “ma’am”… At least the Big Gulp comes with ice which dilutes the sugar intake.Next on the list pastry, pasta, donuts, cakes, cookies, candy, alcohol; beer, wine liquor (yes…Prohibition is back dressed in sheep’s clothing). And don’t forget salt, yes we fatties do love our salt. It’s a strawdog argument. These nut-case do-gooders are seeing precious federal funds slashed for their BS projects and are literally grasping at straws for revenue. They only see dollar signs…screw individual rights, screw personal responsibility.

  16. YES!!! Keep it up, nanny state, and piss more people off. As a long-time smoker, I’m glad to see *everyone* is going to suffer the same bullsh!t we’ve dealt with for years. Maybe, just MAYBE, it’ll irritate enough people to fight sin tax. And if one sin tax is found unconstitutional, that will set a precedent to argue against all others!

  17. I like giant cups of iced tea. With lots of ice.

  18. I have to wonder how many of you commenting here in agreement — and rightly so — that this is outrageous are the same people I often see commenting in favor of the exact same nanny govt. tactics taken against tobacco, smoking, and the consumers of cigarettes. For the millionth time, it’s NOT “different” as clearly laid out here. What’s at stake is not an item-by-item check off either for or against. What’s at stake is core values. You are either against the nanny state — which seeks to control regardless of the item — in totality or you are guilty of encouraging them by not only not defending one item but agreeing outright with all that persecutes it. It never matters if YOU think “it’s different,” it matters that THEY don’t. So all of you who have been in favor of anti-smoking take a bow for this which comes next. And I do wish this article’s author, who I thank for shining a light on, would have at least spent a sentence on how this is an exact duplicate of the measures taken against the legal tobacco and smoking.

    1. ^THIS.^ Well put, Audrey.

      1. Thank you. I liked yours too.

    2. Here? Probably about none. Most people here don’t support the war on heroin, let alone the war on tobacco.

      1. Believe me, that is what I’d expect but have been dumbfounded in the past when the subject matter was, say, smoking bans and a good number of comments were in favor of it or, to be kinder, not so much against it.

  19. So it’s 16 years between the time the Supreme Court legalized big gulps and California made them illegal again.

  20. Remember that the people of California need to be told how to conduct their lives. Most aren’t too bright based on the people that they keep voting into office.

    The voters need all the help they can get.

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