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Santa Monica Lawmaker to Reintroduce Tax on Sugary Beverages


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July 3, 2018 -- More than three years after a Santa Monica lawmaker's bill to tax sodas and other sugary beverages failed in committee, a similar measure is back on the agenda for the 2019 legislative session.

Assemblyman Richard Bloom announced this week that he would once again sponsor a bill to help fund the fight against diabetes and heart disease.

“The overconsumption of sugar sweetened beverages has led to a staggering rise in obesity and diabetes in California,” said Bloom, a former Santa Monica mayor.

“Low income communities, communities of color, and children have been targeted by the soda industry and are facing increasingly dire health outcomes," he said. "We can’t wait until 2020. We need to act now.”

Bloom’s announcement was made after the California Medical Association and the California Dental Association announced they would try to introduce a similar ballot measure in 2020.

Bloom's announcement also comes on the heals of a measure signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday that bars California cities and counties from creating taxes on soda and other sugary drinks through 2030.

The bill was the result of a deal between the beverage industry and organized labor that led to he removal of an initiative funded by soda companies that would make it harder to raise state and local taxes.

The biggest source of added sugar, soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages have been tied to an heightened risk of diabetes, heart and liver disease, obesity and tooth decay, a statement from Bloom's office said.

Between 2001 and 2012, the number of people diagnosed with diabetes in California has jumped 50 percent.

"Unless the trend is reversed, one in three of our children born after 2000 –- and half of Latino and African American children -– will go on to develop Type 2 Diabetes in their lifetimes," Bloom's office said.

A quarter of Californians were obese in 2015, up from 9 percent in 1984. That number is projected to increase to 47 percent by 2030.

A 2015 report report by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research found that more Californians than ever -- 7.4 million (or some 25 percent) -- are obese.

That number is projected to increase to 47 percent by 2030, according to Bloom's staff.

Diabetes and other associated diseases "cost the state tens of billions of dollars annually in healthcare costs," Bloom's office said.

"Diabetes, in particular, is now the most expensive chronic condition in the country in terms of personal health care spending and those with diabetes spend over twice as much on medical expenditures as those without," the statement said.

Bloom's previous bill -- which was soundly defeated in the Assembly Health Committee in May 2015 -- would have generated $3 billion a year by putting a 2-cent-per-ounce tax on sodas and other sugary beverages.

Industry lobbyists argued that obesity and diabetes have numerous causes and that singling out sweet sodas was unfair when other sugary foods were not subject to the tax.

The California Chamber of Commerce called the bill a “job killer.”

Several soda tax bills have been proposed over the years but none has reached the floor of the State Assembly or State Senate, where it would have needed a two-thirds vote to pass.



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