CDA, CMA file statewide soda tax measure for 2020

A ballot measure to protect public health through a state soda tax has been filed for the November 2020 ballot by CDA and the California Medical Association.

The filing comes four days after the multibillion-dollar soda industry proposed a ballot measure that jeopardized the fiscal outlook of local governments, forcing the state to pre-empt local authority and pass an unprecedented 12-year moratorium on any local soda tax.

Specifically, the soda industry’s proposal would have required cities and counties achieve a two-thirds vote instead of the current 50 percent vote threshold to raise taxes.

The 2020 ballot initiative by CDA and CMA would implement a statewide tax of 2 cents per fluid ounce on sugar-sweetened drinks, providing at least $1.7 billion in revenue for critical health programs and constitutionally preserving the ability of California’s local communities to make their own decisions regarding future soda taxes.   

Dustin Corcoran, CMA chief executive officer, and Carrie Gordon, CDA chief strategy officer, said in a statement:      

In the face of growing public support for local health taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages, the billion-dollar global soda industry last week put corporate profits ahead of public health and forced an ultimatum upon the leadership of California’s state government.

Big Soda may have won a cynical short-term victory but, for the sake of our children’s health, we cannot and will not allow them to undermine California’s long-term commitment to health care and disease prevention.         

There is overwhelming evidence of the link between obesity, diabetes, tooth decay, and heart disease and the consumption of sugary-sweetened beverages such as soft drinks, energy drinks, sweet teas and sports drinks.

Around the world and in local communities, reasonable soda taxes have been proven effective in dramatically reducing consumption of sugary drinks and improving the public health, especially among children.

California’s health care provider community is united behind ensuring that California voters have the opportunity to protect our children’s well-being — not the profit margins of soda conglomerates.

Sugar-sweetened beverages are the single largest source of added sugar in the American diet and a primary cause of dental decay — the most common chronic childhood disease, experienced by more than two-thirds of children in California. And soda is the most consumed beverage in the U.S. with more than 60 percent of teenagers drinking at least one sugar-sweetened beverage daily. The frequent consumption combined with the high levels of sugar and acid make these beverages exceptionally damaging to teeth.

California jurisdictions that already impose sugar-sweetened beverage taxes, including Albany, Berkeley, Oakland and San Francisco, are allowed to maintain the taxes and are not affected by the statewide bill signed Thursday by Gov. Brown. CDA supported the Albany, Oakland and San Francisco initiatives that passed at the polls in 2016, citing that they would not only discourage consumption but fund programs to combat dental disease, obesity, diabetes and other disease tied to excessive consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.

CDA will keep members informed about the status and progress of the ballot initiative on cda.org and in the CDA Update.

Updated: 7/13/18

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The 2018-19 state budget signed by Gov. Jerry Brown dedicates $210 million from the Proposition 56 Tobacco Tax revenue to Denti-Cal providers, a $70 million increase from last year’s amount. And a new aspect in this year’s budget is an additional one-time allocation of $30 million toward a program that would repay student loans for dentists who commit to serving Denti-Cal beneficiaries and locate their practice in a county or region that lacks adequate providers.

CDA-sponsored Senate Bill 1008 (Skinner, D-Berkeley), which calls for more value and transparency from dental plans, is moving swiftly through the Legislature. The bill in late May passed the Senate with bipartisan support despite strong opposition from the dental plan lobby. SB 1008 supports patient choice of provider and helps level the playing field for providers and patients.

CDA-sponsored legislation, Senate Bill 1148 (Pan, D-Sacramento), which if passed would allow dentists who provide care in the Medi-Cal dental program to be reimbursed when they use silver diamine fluoride for dental caries treatment, passed out of its first committee hearing — the Senate Health Committee — in April and was due to be heard by the Senate Appropriations Committee in late May.