The San Francisco Board of Education threw its weight behind a proposed two cent levy on sugary drinks sold in The City, but the question remains if at least two-thirds of the electorate will support the tax come November.
Nevertheless, backers of the proposed sugary beverage tax – the two cent per ounce sugary beverage tax measure is being proposed by Supervisors Scott Wiener, Eric Mar, Malia Cohen and John Avalos – can check off at least one key endorsement in their quest to prevail where other cities have failed. The San Francisco Unified School District board passed a resolution Tuesday in support of the tax.
The backing could help in getting the measure on the ballot in the first place, which takes at least six votes by the Board of Supervisors.
“The commissioners represent those most impacted by the consumption of sugary beverages—our children,” the four supervisors said in a joint statement. “By giving their endorsement to a tax on sugary beverages, the Board of Education joins a broad coalition of public health advocates, community leaders, parents, and San Francisco residents who recognize the negative health effects these beverages are having on our collective city health and the value of a tax on sugary beverages to lower consumption and fund programs to improve our health.”
The same statement said that “The tax is estimated to generate up to $31 million annually and to significantly reduce consumption of sugary beverages.”
The tax proceeds are proposed to be legally restricted to nutrition, health, and physical activity programs.
The school board resolution noted that “UCSF researcher Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo has calculated that even a one-cent per ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages could cut sugary beverage consumption by 10 percent – with corresponding reductions in reductions in future cases of diabetes, obesity and heart disease, as well as the cost of treating them.”
School Board Commissioner Rachel Norton, who proposed the resolution in support, said in a statement that “Consumption of sugary beverages has been found to be very destructive to the health of children, and children who have serious health issues like diabetes or obesity are at an academic, social and physical disadvantage.”
An amended proposed measure will be finalized and introduced to the Board of Supervisors in the coming weeks with a hearing on it expected sometime in the spring