Campaign kicks off in SF to get people to stop drinking soda


Children shouting sugar madness is part of the kickoff to a campaign to get San Franciscans to stop drinking soda. It coincides with a proposed ballot initiative to tax sugary drinks in the city at two cents an ounce.

"We need to do what we did with the tobacco which was causing disease as well and to use tax policies to make sure people are drinking less," said District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener.

In the meantime, "Shape Up San Francisco" has received a $250,000 private grant to put up billboards and bus ads in mostly lower income neighborhoods warning of the health dangers of drinking too much soda.

The crux of the campaign is that a 20 ounce soda contains the equivalent of 22 packets of sugar.

Among those at the kick off was former Richmond City Councilman Jeff Ritterman, who tried unsuccessfully to pass a soda tax in that city, as well as a woman working with the beverage industry who was recording the event. The American Beverage Association says taxes won't make people healthier.

"You can make strides and show success, without regressive taxes that result in raising the cost of living for folks who can least afford it," said Chuck Finnie, a beverage industry spokesman.

"It just doesn't seem to me the government's business. I understand there's health reasons," said Mike Stojanoff, who is opposed to a sugar tax.

"So why not do ourselves a favor and help our cities and our countries by charging ourselves a little bit extra to have to get it, right?" said Shannon Butler, a sugar tax supporter.

The board of supervisors will decide next week whether to put a sugar drink tax on the November ballot.

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