In nanny state news: Supervisor Scott Wiener plans to introduce legislation this week that would add a 24-cent tax on every can of soda sold in the city of San Francisco.
Wiener's bill calls for a tax of two cents per ounce for any drink that has more than 25 calories and is less than 50 percent juice. (So Diet Coke addicts are spared the sin tax here.) Assuming the Board of Supervisors goes along with Wiener's initiative, the bill will make an appearance on the November 2014 ballot where it will need support from two-thirds of the city to pass. It is expected to raise roughly $31 million per year to be set aside for health and exercise programs at city schools and recreation centers.
A similar statewide initiative is currently in limbo awaiting approval by the state Senate appropriations committee, but other efforts to legislate America's diabetes-inducing cola addiction have failed either at the ballot box or in court. In Richmond, California a similar ballot measure was shot down last year after Big Soda spent millions opposing it. In New York City, a court decided Mayor Bloomberg's administration overstepped its bounds when they tried to ban any soda larger than 16 ounces.
Recent polls in California, however, show that the state is OK with the tax as long as the proceeds goes to school programs that keep kids healthy. "I try to cross my t's and dot my i's, and I wouldn't pursue this if I didn't think it had a chance," Wiener told The Chronicle. "There will be a big fight - the beverage industry will try to pull all the shenanigans they have pulled elsewhere - but we have a strong coalition behind this. San Francisco is always at the forefront of public health issues and trying to find innovative ways to keep the city healthy."