San Francisco business coalition slams proposed tax on sugary drinks
• City board of supervisors start hearings on proposal
• Tax proposed as public health measure
• Opponents say it would raise prices on all food and beverages
SAN FRANCISCO, California — A local coalition of small business owners declared opposition to a beverage tax as the city’s supervisors held a public hearing April 16 on a proposed ballot measure that would impose a 2¢ per-ounce tax on most sugar-sweetened beverages sold in the city.
The Drop the Beverage Tax coalition argued “it is not just a tax on soda. This is a tax on juice drinks, ice teas, powdered drinks, sports drinks, and hundreds of other beverages.”
It further claimed that If approved by voters in November, the tax would increase the price of some products by as much as 75 percent.
“A proposal to tax hundreds of beverages in San Francisco will have the unintended consequence of raising prices on all foods and beverages at a time when San Franciscans confront a growing affordability gap.”
Supervisor Scott Wiener proposed the measure, claiming that the tax would create an estimated $31 million annually that would be used to fund recreation and nutrition programs in schools and elsewhere.
Weiner argued that sugary beverages cause an epidemic of health problems including diabetes and obesity among adults, teenagers and even young children.
“The last thing we need is to add tens of millions dollars a year to the cost of doing business,” said Paula Tejada, owner of Chile Lindo restaurant in the 2900 block of Mission Street. “The priority for City Hall should be making it easier for local businesses to succeed in San Francisco – not harder.”
“I don’t see how a tax like this translates into a healthier city,” said Taylor Peck, owner of Taylor Tonics and The Fizzary soda shops in The Mission and on Upper Haight Street. “What I do see are the makings of a new bureaucracy that will raise the price doing business in San Francisco.”
Shirley Rafieerty, owner of Soup Freaks restaurant and catering in the 600 block of Mission Street, said, “San Franciscans don’t need to be told what to eat or drink. We’re already one of the healthiest cities in America. A beverage tax will hurt local restaurants without helping the people who live and work here.”
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