San Francisco Supervisors to Introduce Unified Soda Tax Measure at Board of Supervisors Meeting Today

Proposal will put a sugar-sweetened beverage tax on the ballot to fund nutrition, health, and physical activity programs, and will replace the two separate pieces of legislation previously put forth by Supervisor Eric Mar and Scott Wiener

San Francisco, CA - At today's Board of Supervisors meeting, a coalition of San Francisco Supervisors will introduce a unified measure to implement a tax of two cents per ounce on the distribution of soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages in San Francisco. The funds from the tax -- sponsored by Supervisors Eric Mar, Scott Wiener, Malia Cohen, John Avalos, David Chiu, and David Campos -- will be legally dedicated to fund City and public school nutrition, health and physical activity programs that will address the impacts of diabetes, obesity and other negative health effects associated with consumption of sugary beverages.

"With the epidemic of diseases related to these drinks that we are experiencing here in San Francisco, we as city leaders have a responsibility to act," said Supervisor Wiener. "This tax will drive down consumption of sugary beverages and provide funding for programs that improve the health of everyone in our city. To defeat the beverage industry, we are going to need a broad coalition of supporters, including at the Board of Supervisors. The support for this measure shows that we can all come together to unite around an important common cause - the health of our city and our communities."

A growing grassroots coalition of healthcare, education, and community leaders and organizations are supporting the measure, including the San Francisco Board of Education, State Senator Mark Leno, Assemblymember Tom Ammiano, the Hospital Council of Northern California, the San Francisco Medical Society, the California Nurses Association, the YMCA, and the Parent Political Action Committee.

 "As a father I know our families need help when they live in environments saturated with sugary drinks that are aggressively marketed everywhere children turn," stated Supervisor Mar. "And I share our collective desire to make San Francisco better for families and to continue to be a city that protects our public health and allows all neighborhoods to thrive."

The tax is estimated to generate up to $31 million annually and to significantly reduce consumption of sugary beverages. Under the terms of the legislation, disadvantaged/low-income communities, including those most impacted by the diabetes and obesity epidemics, will be prioritized in funding decisions. The tax is proposed for the November 2014 election for consideration by the voters. Because the tax proceeds will be legally restricted to nutrition, health, and physical activity programs, it will require a 2/3 affirmative vote. The measure is structured to require that funding be in addition to current funding levels and not utilized as replacement funding for existing programs.

The proceeds of the tax will be divided as follows:

- 40% to the San Francisco Unified School District for student nutrition services; nutrition education; after-school nutrition programs; expansion and improvement of physical education and after-school physical activity programs

- 25% to the Department of Public Health and the Public Utilities Commission for healthy food access initiatives; drinking fountains and water bottle filling stations; oral health services; chronic disease prevention; and public education campaigns.

 -25% to the Recreation and Park Department for recreation centers, and organized sports and athletic programming, provided that up to ten percent of this 25% may be allocated by the Recreation and Park Department to community-based organizations for active recreation program, with a priority on programs serving low-income and underserved communities

- 10% to be allocated through the Department of Public Health to fund grants for community-based organizations that support physical activity, food access, public outreach, and health programs.

The tax will be placed on the first distribution of any beverage with 25 or more calories and added caloric sweeteners into San Francisco, including syrups used to make fountain drinks. Distributors will be responsible for paying the tax.

Last fall, Supervisors Mar and Wiener separately introduced measures to place a tax on sugary beverages to fund City and public school programs. Since then, the Supervisors have been collaborating with other co-sponsors, public health advocates, and community leaders to build a coalition around this merged piece of legislation.


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