Souring On Sweet? Voters In 4 Cities Pass Soda Tax Measures : The Salt Three cities in California, as well as Boulder, Colo., adopted taxes on sugary drinks, a move aimed at combating obesity.
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Souring On Sweet? Voters In 4 Cities Pass Soda Tax Measures

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Souring On Sweet? Voters In 4 Cities Pass Soda Tax Measures

Souring On Sweet? Voters In 4 Cities Pass Soda Tax Measures

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This recent election was a sweeping victory for soda taxes. Voters approved them in all four cities where they were on the ballot. NPR's Allison Aubrey says these taxes are meant to reduce obesity.

ALLISON AUBREY, BYLINE: The idea that a tax on sugary drinks could help communities tame their collective sweet tooth is about to be tested. Now that voters in San Francisco, Oakland and Albany, Calif., as well as Boulder, Colo., have approved a tax on sugary drinks, the cost of a 12 ounce can of soda could rise about a dime. Nancy Brown, the CEO of the American Heart Association who's been advocating for these measures, says this is a big win for public health.

NANCY BROWN: We do believe that a tax on sugary beverages will reduce consumption.

AUBREY: In the weeks before the vote, public health groups were on the ground and on the airwaves in the Bay Area. They made the case to voters that the amount of sugary drinks Americans consume, especially kids, is leading to a health crisis. Here's a testimonial from a physician Anthony Iton.

ANTHONY ITON: Thirty years ago, we didn't see 8-year-olds with diabetes. These days, you see hundreds of them. The soda companies are pushing this product. And these kids are highly vulnerable and they're getting sick.

AUBREY: The American Beverage Association, which represents all the big players in the soda industry, worked hard to try to defeat the taxes. And the group's CEO, Susan Neely, argues there's a more constructive way to combat obesity.

SUSAN NEELY: We are deeply and publicly committed to reducing calories and sugar from our beverages. We put a metric out there and committed to a 20 percent reduction of calories and sugar from our beverages by 2025.

AUBREY: And, Neely says, the industry has introduced more low and zero-calorie options to help meet this goal. But this will not fend off the push for more soda taxes. The American Heart Association says there are efforts underway in Alabama and Illinois. And the World Health Organization has urged governments around the globe to tax sugary drinks. Allison Aubrey, NPR News.

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