“Despite over $10 million spent by Coke, Pepsi and Red Bull- the most ever spent on a campaign in San Francisco- the voters have spoken, and a majority support a soda tax. With Berkeley’s results, and our numbers, we have delivered a double black eye to the beverage industry. The people have prevailed against an onslaught of corporate money. We are excited for our allies in Berkeley, who knocked over the first domino tonight, beginning a nationwide public health movement.

Because of California’s complicated tax laws, we needed 2/3 YES for Prop E to go into effect. Public awareness of the dangers of regular consumption of soda and sugary beverages is growing, and we will continue to look at ways to intervene to reduce consumption, because there are too many lives at stake.

The first domino has fallen, and more cities will be emboldened to follow, because we now know that taxing soda reduces consumption, just as tobacco taxes reduced smoking, and as Mexico’s consumption of soda and sugary beverages has dropped 10% since they instituted their soda tax this year.

We were able to accomplish an incredible amount over 10 months with 1/30th of the funds the No side had. We built an incredible grassroots coalition- health organizations across San Francisco as well as the American Heart Association, California Medical Association, teachers, grocery workers, and so many more.

This isn’t about one soda tax. This is about a national movement that was kicked off tonight, and we are proud to have raised the conversation about the health impacts of soda and sugary beverages, and exposed the beverage industry’s deceptive tactics.

We are grateful to the following people and organizations for their unwavering support. First of all, Dr. Jeff Ritterman, who boldly stepped forward with a soda tax for Richmond in 2012; Dr. Harold Goldstein and the California Center for Public Health Advocacy; San Francisco’s Shape Up Coalition, which laid the groundwork in so many ways, especially Bea Cardenas Duncan, Chuck Collins and Christina Goette; public health advocates Roberto Vargas, Sheffield Hale, Sarah Fine and Janna Cordeiro; Dr. Dean Schillinger; Lena Brook; the San Francisco Medical Society, especially Dr. John Maa and Dr. Lawrence Cheung, who were among the first to step forward with support; the American Heart Association, especially Brittni Chicuatta; the California Medical Association; the California Nurses Association; the San Francisco Dental Society and the San Francisco Dental Hygiene Society; the California Dentists Association; Pastor Aurelius Walker; Robin Dean; Amor Santiago; Kent Woo; San Francisco’s public health and food justice advocates, especially Ryan Thayer and Teri Olle; Maria Stokes and Project Open Hand; the San Francisco Board of Education; the San Francisco Parent PAC; the San Francisco PTA, especially Michelle Parker; Rachel Norton of the San Francisco Parks Alliance; our allies in labor, including United Educators of San Francisco, the United Food and Commercial Worker’s Union Local 648; SEIU 1021; the American Federation of Teachers Local 2121; SEIU Local 87; SEIU-UHW United Healthcare Workers West; John and Lisa Pritzker for their generosity, Rodrigo Santos & Santos and Urrutia; and every donor who supported the campaign; the San Francisco Democratic Party, especially Leah Pimentel, the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club, our amazing campaign staff: Todd David, Chris Selim, Jeff Sparks, Niels Smith who have tirelessly organized our campaign for almost a year; and all the interns and hundreds of volunteers who called voters, knocked on doors, and gave their time and energy to get our message out; and political and neighborhood organizations across San Francisco.”

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    Even Big Soda Canvassers Support the Soda Tax

    Big_Soda_Money.JPG$13/hr - that’s how much Chris, a freshman at San Francisco State, said he was making to canvass and show up at rallies to oppose the Soda Tax. He was wearing his red "No on E" shirt, trying to get to Castro Street Station to table when asked me for help with directions. I offered to point him in the right direction and as we were walking, I asked Chris how he would vote. He said that he would vote for the tax, but is scared of his boss who pays him to canvass against it.

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    Why A Soda Tax Will Work

    I’m gonna use the price of chips to illustrate why a soda tax will work to curb consumption of sugary drinks and increase awareness about the health dangers those drinks pose.

    Now if, Dear Reader, you’re scratching your head, thinking, “Huh? Wait a second…chips?” please, bear with me.

    Over the past several weeks here in the Choose Health SF Blog, we’ve read numerous postings which have outlined brilliant points, facts, studies and data in-support of San Francisco’s soda tax measure. They’ve come from the greatest minds in public health. Educators, nutritionists, community organizers, food bank representatives and even the council members behind Proposition E have enlightened us with why this tax is a good idea.

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    Disease Prevention Through Taxation

    As a student doctor, I have aspirations that I will be able to help my patients remain healthy and happy. In school, we learn about the complex mechanisms involved in disease development. In the context of diabetes, we have learned about how high calorie diets can eventually prevent our bodies from using Insulin as it should. The result is the myriad of problems seen in patients with diabetes. Diabetes is a very serious disease with effects on many different organs in our bodies, leading to heart disease, and even limb amputations, in advanced cases. We also learn about all of the various medications involved in treating diabetes. The sad thing about our therapeutic approach is that we are merely applying patches to a problem. Instead, we need to focus on preventing the problem from developing in the first place.

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    Soda Tax Offers San Francisco Students a Healthier Future

    Allow me to paint a picture about the SFUSD School Meals Program. Let’s begin with hunger. Rumbling tummies, distracted bodies, cranky spirits. Too many students wake up, scramble to get to school and inevitably skip breakfast. They arrive hungry, and we know they stay hungry during the day too: only 57% of those who qualify for free/reduced school meals actually eat lunch.

    To the extent that they do eat during the school day, they tend toward junk food, off campus. They go off campus because the alternative is to spend their entire lunch period waiting for a free meal. Overburdened lunch lines are a huge issue.

    In the background to all of this: about 1/3 of SFUSD students are overweight or obese; and just 10% of Latino and African American students meet fitness standards, according to Fitnessgram data. So these kids fall into the awful situation of being both stuffed and starved. Hungry and overweight.

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    Draining the Myth that a Soda Tax Threatens Affordability

    As a supporter of San Francisco’s Proposition E, the proposed tax on sugar-sweetened beverages on November’s ballot, I’ve been asked to explain why it is the right choice for our city. In recent months, San Franciscans have received a barrage of information about Prop E from the $300 billion soda industry, and it’s important to understand facts.

    Playing on the fears of San Franciscans concerned about our city’s affordability crisis, the Big Soda industry claims that the sugary-beverage tax will dramatically raise grocery costs for San Francisco families. They are calling it a regressive tax that unfairly punishes the most needy in our city.

    I just don’t buy this argument, just as I don’t buy soda for my household.

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    It’s a Value Statement

    It’s pretty easy to see what a person’s priorities are by observing their actions. You may hear them say one thing, but if they do another, well, you know the drill.

    “[Fill in child’s name here], will you please go clean your room?” “Yes, mom.”
    The football game watching/video game playing/teasing his sister continues.
    Waiting. Nothing is happening.
    “Did you hear me?”
    "Your room."
    "Oh, yeah. Just ten more minutes. I promise."
    Two hours later the room still looks the same.

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    Big Soda Reeks of Big Tobacco

    I have watched relatives — long-time smokers — die of cancer. I have seen the parents of my young students struggling with Type II diabetes, unable to provide the support they wanted as they battled the disease.

    The tobacco wars of the last half of the 20th century began before I was born, but I can’t help noticing the similarities with the debate over soda and Proposition E. I’m glad to be able to speak up this time, and have a voice in this battle.

    Tobacco companies denied the link between nicotine and lung cancer, yet they knew full well what they were doing. Like Big Tobacco, Big Soda denies their product’s impact, in this case the direct link between sugary drinks and Type II diabetes (and the strong correlational link to obesity); they, too, know full well what they are doing.

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    Soda, the Sugar-Coated Toxin

    Coke & Jolly Ranchers.jpgWhich of these meals is better for your health?

    Neither looks terribly healthy, but which do you think would be better for you: 1) the burger and coke, 2) or the burger with the 16 pieces of candy?

    As it turns out, that 20 oz. coke contains 65 grams of sugar, the same amount that is in those 16 candies (the equivalent of 16 teaspoons of sugar; e.g., A LOT of sugar). But did you know that the coke may actually be worse for you than those hard candies?

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    Parents Welcome Support to Raise Healthy Kids in San Francisco

    I’ve been a public health professional for over 20 years, but the most important job I’ve ever had is being a mom to my 12-year-old daughter.

    Raising a child in San Francisco has its challenges, and I, like many parents, rely on a network of supports to make it through our days. Regardless of our educational backgrounds, our financial resources, our culture or language, San Francisco parents and guardians rely on family, friends, caretakers, teachers, daycare providers, after-school staff, crossing guards, neighbors, and yes, our City government to ensure that our kids are safe, healthy, and happy.

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    Vote Yes on E to Save Lives in San Francisco

    When people in our community are empowered to eat better and lead healthier lives, everyone benefits. That’s why Project Open Hand supports Proposition E, the tax on sugared beverages. Proposition E provides a real opportunity to improve the health and well-being of San Francisco residents.

    At Project Open Hand, we see the effects of poor nutrition on a daily basis. Some of our most critically ill clients come to us after years of eating poorly, often because healthy choices were not available to them. For many clients with diabetes, heart disease, HIV and other serious illnesses, their diseases were caused or exacerbated by poor nutrition.

    As of 2010, nearly a third (31.7%) of children and adolescents in San Francisco were either obese or overweight. And we know that overweight children all-too-often grow up to be unhealthy, overweight adults. Furthermore, one in three children born today will develop diabetes in their lifetime. Proposition E supports programs that can get young people back on track to living active, healthy lives.

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