SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Senator Bernie Sanders has sent an angry letter to a beverage industry group, demanding his image be removed from Bay Area television ads opposing a soda tax measure on the November ballot in both San Francisco and Oakland.
In his cease and desist letter, Sanders says he has not made up his mind of whether or not to support the proposed penny per ounce tax.
“Advertising from the American Beverage Association that implies that I oppose ballot items in San Francisco and Oakland that would place a tax on drinks with sugar are false,” said Sanders, in a statement, provided to Forbes Magazine. “I have not taken any position on those ballot items, and I have asked the American Beverage Association to stop using my name in connection with this misleading advertising.”
Sanders had voiced his opposition to a three-cents-per-ounce soda tax proposed in Philadelphia earlier this year.
The Pennsylvania city eventually put a one-half-cent-per-ounce tax into place.
City officials in both Oakland and San Francisco have announced their backing for the tax measures.
Citing heart disease and diabetes as a result of the consumption of sweet drinks, the two initiatives, Proposition V in San Francisco and Measure HH in Oakland, both propose a fee of one-cent per ounce of soda and other sugary beverages. The tax would be paid by the distributors of the drinks, according to advocates of the proposals.
“Our cities are facing an epidemic of health problems directly attributable to sugary beverages, which includes diabetes, obesity, heart disease. And it’s a fact these diseases are killing us. We’ve had enough and we are doing something about this crisis,” San Francisco Supervisor Malia Cohen said.
Oakland’s measure HH is being opposed by more than 280 storeowners who call themselves the No Oakland Grocery Tax Campaign, which is funded in part by the Washington D.C.-based American Beverage Association.
Owners of small grocery stores in both Oakland and San Francisco have expressed concern about the proposed one-cent tax. During a news conference in Oakland, the owners said the tax would force them to raise the price on all items, not just beverages, in order to absorb the added cost.
In November 2014, the city of Berkeley passed a similar measure, becoming the first city in the country to do so.
In a published study from the University of California at Berkeley, researchers found a 21 percent drop in the consumption of soda and other sugary beverages in Berkeley’s low-income neighborhoods following the passing of the one-cent per ounce tax.
In November, residents in the neighboring city of Albany will also be faced with a similar sugary beverage tax measure on their ballots.
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