A coalition of City of Berkeley leaders and community advocates is considering the introduction of a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) on the November 2014 ballot. The tax would be in the amount of $0.01/ounce of SSB, charged to the distributor or the retailer, who would have to pay each year upon applying for a license to distribute such beverages in Berkeley. The University of California is constitutionally exempt from this City measure, but it may elect to voluntarily require its vendors to be similarly taxed in support of this City measure.

This poll is being conducted in an effort to gauge general university and student support and possible commitment for this city-wide measure.

- The rationale behind proposing a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages:
Sugary drinks are the no. 1 source of calories in children’s diets today, putting children at greater risk of Type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and dental decay (1). In Alameda County, nearly 1/3 of children aged 2 – 11 and 2/3 of teens 12 – 17 consume at least one SSB per day. This has increased by 24% and 10%, respectively, since 2005 (2). Research shows that industry ads are targeted to children and teens. This tax would provide resources to increase health education and programming that can offset the impact of marketing campaigns and these sugary drinks.

- “Sugar-sweetened Beverage” (SSB):
A sugar-sweetened beverage is a beverage that contains caloric sweeteners. Examples of beverages that may be considered SSBs are: sodas and soft drinks, sweetened iced teas, Italian sodas, sports and energy drinks, sweetened coffee drinks such as Frappuccinos®, fruit drink cocktails containing added sugar, and ades and punches. For nutritive purposes, milk, milk products, and medical products will be excluded from this measure.