Bay Area Soda Taxes

As of 2018, the Bay Area is home to 4 cities with soda taxes: Berkeley, Albany, Oakland, and San Francisco. UC Berkeley researchers are teaming up with colleagues at UC San Francisco and Stanford to conduct a broad study of the effect of soda taxes on soda consumption and purchasing, as well as on local jobs and economies. With funding from The California Endowment and the National Institutes of Health, the research team will follow the impact of the taxes over the next 5 years.

Team Members:

The Berkeley Soda Tax

In 2015, Berkeley became the first city in the nation to implement a soda tax. Researchers from UC Berkeley published the first studies on the impact of the tax both on the price of soda (Falbe, 2016) and on soda consumption (Falbe, 2017, Lee and Falbe, 2018).  As expected, the price of regular soda increased in Berkeley compared to neighboring cities after the tax was implemented.  About 6 months into the tax, consumption of soda in low-income neighborhoods dropped by 26% compared to neighboring cities. In the first three years of the tax SSB consumption dropped 52% among residents of diverse Berkeley neighborhoods.

UC Team Members:

Read Kristine Madsen’s blog post on Restoring Democracy: The Battle Against Big Soda.

Read about our recent soda tax research in Berkeley News.

Listen to an episode on our Just Food Podcast about the Berkeley Soda Tax.

Learn more about BFI’s Seed Grant to support the Berkeley Soda Tax research.

Soda Tax Revenue Investments

Bay Area Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Taxes: An Evaluation of Community Investments

MAY 2019

Sydney Bennet, Nick Draper, Irene Farnsworth, and Fiona McBride

A Goldman School of Public Policy Independent Policy Analysis team worked with the Praxis Project and the Berkeley Food Institute in spring 2019 to investigate the actual implementation of sugary drink tax revenues in those four Bay Area cities. Their report looked at these aspects of the tax allocations: 1) administrative structure; 2) grantmaking; 3) evaluation; and 4) political and policy considerations for future soda tax initiatives. While these taxes are still relatively new, the team found that Albany, Berkeley, Oakland, and San Francisco have, to varying degrees, made equity a focus as well as taking steps to ensure robust and sustainable political support for sugary drink taxes. All four cities enacted their taxes via ballot initiative and three of them created citizen commissions to guide city leadership on spending of funds raised from sugary drink taxes, giving the community consistent opportunity to be involved in the policy enactment and implementation process. The Bay Area cities have also been able to show a direct link between their sugary drink taxes and valuable community programs. Read the full report here.