05/11/2014 6:33 PM AEDT | Updated 06/11/2014 9:59 AM AEDT

Nation's First Soda Tax Passes In Berkeley, Fails in San Francisco

Local ballot measures in California to create the nation’s first taxes on sugary drinks saw both victory and defeat Tuesday when a bill won in Berkeley and lost in neighboring San Francisco, The San Francisco Chronicle reported.

San Francisco’s Proposition E proposed placing a 2-cents-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, defined as drinks containing added sugar and 25 calories or more per 12 ounces. Because the bill required that the money raised by the tax be set aside for specific spending -- health, nutrition, physical education and active recreation programs through the San Francisco Unified School District, Department of Public Health and Recreation and Park Department -- it required a two-thirds vote to pass.

PBS NewsHour calculated that a can of soda, typically 99 cents, would cost San Francisco residents closer to $1.24, and a two-liter soda, priced around $3.99, would cost more than $5.

Proposition E exempts diet sodas, milk and alternative milks such as soy or almond, beverages that contain only natural fruit and vegetable juice, infant formula, meal replacements, supplemental nutrition products and weight reduction beverages, and syrups and powders sold for individuals to create their own sugary beverages.

Berkeley’s Measure D proposed imposing a 1-cent-per-ounce general tax on sugar-sweetened beverages and sweeteners used to flavor drinks. The measure did not dedicate funding to a specific cause and required only a majority of the vote.

Similarly, Berkeley’s proposal makes exemptions for diet drinks, milk products, 100 percent juice, baby formula, alcoholic drinks taken for medical reasons, and sugary drinks and sweeteners distributed to very small retailers.

The ballot measures instigated massive spending by Big Soda. The opposition, which TIME noted was almost entirely funded by the American Beverage Association, raised $9.1 million in San Francisco and $2.4 million in Berkeley, a hefty campaign price tag in a city of just 116,000.

The bills’ supporters have argued that soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages are major contributors to the nation’s obesity epidemic and that taxing them will help address the health crisis. San Francisco’s city economist Ted Egan said the price hike would discourage people from buying sugary drinks and predicted residents would reduce their soda consumption by 31 percent.

Opposition to the bills argued that taxes are already high and that these measures unfairly target the beverage industry. The soda companies, Business Insider noted, have also touted recent decisions to remove all full-calorie sodas from schools as part of their pledge to to cut beverage calories consumed per person by 20 percent by 2025.

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    These recognizable-anywhere cans are bad news: They contain 23.5 ounces, nearly three times the suggested serving size for the tea inside. With 90 calories per 8 ounces, finishing an entire can adds up to almost 270.

    Photo from Amazon.com
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    Granted, Jamba Juice All Fruit smoothies are made with much better-for-you ingredients than a can of cola. However, it's still easy to mindlessly sip your calories when a 16-ounce size clocks in at least 210 calories.

    Flickr photo by libookperson
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    A 12-ounce can of the summer favorite clocks in at 150 calories, more than a can of Coke and the same as a can of Pepsi.

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    Snapple Apple Fruit Drink
    There are 100 calories in every 8 ounces of this fruity pick, but the bottle is deceiving, since it packs 16 ounces.

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    There are 170 calories per 12-ounce can of this sweet drink.

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    A 12-ounce can clocks in at 150 calories, more than a can of Coke and the same as a can of Pepsi.

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    Even the small size of this frozen concoction from the coffee chain is a diet danger, with 230 calories in 16 ounces.

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    There are only 100 calories in 8 ounces of this pick-me-up, but who only drinks half a can? The whole thing will set you back 200 calories.

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    Nesquik Lowfat Chocolate Milk
    An 8-ounce bottle of this sweet sip adds up to 170 calories. Beware of larger sizes that encourage bigger portions.

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