Big Soda eyes Berkeley

Trade groups spending millions to defeat soda-tax measure

In Berkeley, where citizens soon will vote on a measure to tax sugar-sweetened beverages, deep-pocketed trade groups have outspent supporters by a ratio of 10-to-1.

Measure D would impose a penny-per-ounce tax on sweetened drinks—which would bring an estimated $1 million to $3 million to the city’s general fund. The vote on Nov. 4 may have national implications, as approval likely would inspire other cities to propose taxes on sugary drink consumption.

But the American Beverage Association, representing brands like Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Dr. Pepper and Gatorade, has spent a total of $1.4 million on its “No on D” campaign, which has bombarded Berkeley residents with mail, phone calls, Internet ads, and representatives going door-to-door, according to The Nation. Two years ago, Big Soda effectively quashed a similar measure in nearby Richmond after pouring $2.5 million into an oppositional campaign.