Update on the Sugary Beverage Tax – One Year Later


Sugary BeverageBy Tia Will

One year ago, the Davis City Council considered putting a sugary beverage tax on the ballot. By a 3-2 vote, the Council delayed such a measure. Amongst the reasons given were that there had not been ample time for community discussion, and that there was not yet evidence of the efficacy of this approach to support the goal of reduction of sugary beverages, demonstrated to lead to the development of obesity and Type II diabetes, the latter of which directly caused over 76,000 deaths in 2014. Objections to the proposed tax have been presented by various community members and posters on the Vanguard.

In this article, I would like to summarize what I see as some of the salient information that has been gathered in the interim and why we should revisit the issue now.

The primary intent of a sugary beverage tax is to stimulate a reduction in the public’s consumption of sugary beverages. These beverages should be considered a consumable product, not a food, based on their lack of  significant nutritional value. An indirect but important secondary goal would be a reduction in the incidence in obesity and Type II diabetes with their attendant poor health consequences and generation of preventable and expensive medical care.

Another benefit would be revenue for designated purposes such as childhood health education and/or recreational and physical activity programs.to further promote health and wellness and reduce medical costs, both social and financial.

Equally important is an understanding of what a sugary beverage tax is not. It is not a panacea. Those of us who support the proposed tax do so as one part of a multipronged approach. We also want to strengthen education on best health practices including dietary choices, exercise, wellness practices such as healthy stress reduction techniques, and adequate sleep. My daughter, a science teacher at a charter middle school is currently working on ways to incorporate these practices into a science curriculum. However, those of us who have practiced clinical medicine or built careers in public health are aware that educational policies alone have proven inadequate to stem the surge of obesity and Type II diabetes. The complications of these conditions devastate individual lives, disrupt the well being of families and are one of the single greatest drivers of health care costs in our country. It is past time for a new and broader approach.

Of course, it is critical to address the question of “will it work?” Next, let’s take a look at the experiences of communities that have already adopted this tax. From the cited Wikipeda article :

Denmark instituted a soft drink tax in 1930’s which was rescinded in 2013 due to unpopularity of the measure which was believed to be harming the economy.  Denmark is relatively low in incidence of obesity and Type II diabetes. It will be interesting to see if this changes with the drop in soda price.

France introduced a targeted sugary beverage tax in 2012 with a decline in consumption within the first year of enactment. In Hungary, a tax came into effect in 2011 with a reported decrease in consumption of 19% of sugary beverages. Ireland approved a soda tax to start in 2018. Mexico’s tax was approved in 2013.

According to a 2016 study published in the British Medical Journal: “annual sales of sodas in Mexico declined 6% in 2014 after the introduction of the soda tax. Monthly sales figures for December 2014 were down 12% on the previous two years. Households with the fewest resources had an average reduction in purchases of 9% in 2014, increasing to 17% by December.”

A 2016 study published in PLoS Medicine suggested that a 10% excise tax on soda “could prevent 189,300 new cases of Type 2 diabetes, 20,400 strokes and heart attacks, and 18,900 deaths among adults 35 to 94 years old” over a ten-year period. The study also included that “the reductions in diabetes alone could yield savings in projected healthcare costs of $983 million.”

Experience in the US

Berkeley’s Measure D soda tax was approved by 76% of Berkeley voters in November 2014, and took effect on January 1, 2015 as the first such tax in the United States.

In August, 2016, a UC Berkeley study showed a 21% drop in the consumption of soda and sugary beverages in low-income neighborhoods in its city.

Additional cities that have passed the tax and whose results will be important to watch are: Philadelphia, San Francisco, Oakland, Albany, California, Boulder, Colorado, and Cook County, Illinois.

Historically, proponents of a sugary beverage tax have pointed out that taxation of cigarettes was one key component of a multipronged approach that included education, prohibition of marketing to minors, warning labels, in school education, and local and regional limitations on permissible locations for smoking. I would urge such a comprehensive approach to sugary beverages.

But, what about the organized opposition? There are a number of arguments that I have heard put forth.

1. It is a feel good, do nothing measure that will not work. This is frequently stated, however, infrequently backed by any evidence to support the claim. While the existing data to support efficacy is limited due to the recent passage of these bills, the preliminary findings look promising.

2. It is a regressive tax that will have the most impact on the poor. I agree that it will have the most impact on the poor. I see this as a good, not a harm since the beverages being targeted have little to no nutritional benefit and actively harm those who consume them to excess. When one considers that the poor are those who are most adversely affected by these beverages and have obesity and Type II diabetes at higher rates than the more affluent, I see it as a distinct health advantage rather than a detriment.

3. It is social engineering and a “nanny state” law. As are many laws for the protection of the public that we accept without much if any complaint. We accept the benefits of speed limits. We accept the life saving benefits of seat belts.  We accept laws regulating at what age one can drive or purchase alcohol or cigarettes. Many who would object ideologically to this tax are the same folks who favor dictating what legal medical procedures are accessible to specific groups within our population.  I would further argue that this is much less restrictive than many of our other laws since the consumption of sugary beverages is a purely optional choice which no one has to make to have a healthy, productive life, profitable life.

4. It’s bad for business. Coca Cola and other major producers and distributors of sugary beverages have mounted a major campaign against these measures. This suggests to me that they do not share the opinion that these taxes will be ineffective. However, let’s look at the tactics employed.  I have included an article on the subject with references for anyone interested. I was particularly struck by these quotes from Coca Cola strategists.

“We will actively campaign to register that a soft drink tax is discriminatory, regressive and will not address the challenge of obesity” Joana Price, Coca-Cola (3/16/16)

Our next steps include furthering relationships with newly elected city council officials to prevent discussion of beverage taxes in the future. We also have an engagement plan for Philadelphia Mayoral Democratic nominee, Jim Kenney.” Lauren Craig, Coca-Cola Philadelphia (6/11/15).

Please note the phrase “to prevent discussion of beverage taxes in the future.” How better to prevent the spread of an idea than to “prevent discussion.” What better way to promote discussion than to put a measure on the ballot for public consideration?

So rather than concentrating their money on research to provide more healthful products, the large sugary beverage companies are sinking millions of dollars into local, regional, national, and international campaigns to cast doubt on the scientific evidence of harm, to present actual benefits as harm to entire communities and are claiming the victim role in terms of discrimination while casting doubt upon the evidence of the disproportional harm of their products and to prevent discussion.

I am not calling for an authoritarian mandated law. I am asking for re-opening consideration of a sugary beverage tax with the goal of a full and robust consideration of the known facts, pros, and cons, and ultimately a measure that would allow the community to decide through the democratic process of a vote. It is my opinion that not allowing full discussion and a vote is just as authoritarian and undemocratic as some consider the tax itself to be.

For references and further information see:






About The Author

Tia is a graduate of UCDMC and long time resident of Davis who raised her two now adult children here. She is a local obstetrician gynecologist with special interests in preventive medicine and public health and safety. All articles and posts written by Tia are reflective only of her own opinions and are in no way a reflection of the opinions of her partners or her employer.

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61 thoughts on “Update on the Sugary Beverage Tax – One Year Later”

  1. Sean Raycraft

    Hey Tia-

    I am glad to see you haven’t given up on this issue. I enjoyed reading the update. However, I think there is an aspect to this issue you omitted. Soda prices are totally arbitrary. When you go to the store, and look at the small sodas in the fridges near the check stand, you will find they are about 2 bucks for tiny 12 ounce bottle. When you go to the soda aisle, you will often find the big 2 liter sodas are significantly cheaper, say 1$ or 1.50. So for soda companies to argue that the price increases will affect poor customers more is something of a lie. Seemingly the prices fluctuate so wildly that a company could just absorb the cost.

  2. Richard C

    Rather than pushing for a local tax, which at most would only affect a few thousand people, wouldn’t it make more sense to push for elimination of sugary beverages from eligibility for purchase using SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits?  Such a change could improve the lives of millions of people all over the country.

    This would require Congressional action to modify the farm bill.  I would expect that there would be powerful pushback from the beverage industry against such an effort.  Perhaps the phrase “Drain the swamp” could be applied here to counteract the lobbying from the beverage industry?

    1. David Greenwald

      Why is it either/ or?

      Why a local tax? Because it’s something in our realm of control. Also one of the lessons of plastic bans is that local taxes create momentum for state action. The state legislature failed last year to overcome the lobbying pressure of the soda industry, but the more local cities that do so, the more likely a future venture will succeed.

    2. Tia Will Post author

      Richard C

      Thanks for the additional suggestion. I would truly love to see this issue taken up on the national level as Mexico and a number of other countries have done. However, I am not willing delay advocacy waiting for the majority of our country to come to the conclusion that health and wellness really are national issues with very far reaching social and economic consequences just because much of the developed world has already arrived at this conclusion.

      As David pointed out, I do not see this as an either/or approach. If we look back at the efforts to reduce cigarette smoking, it took many years using multiple modalities including education, local restrictions, advertising prohibitions ( to children) and taxation to gain a significant reduction. All the while, the tobacco companies were doing just what the soda companies are doing now, attempting to cast doubt on the medical evidence, attempting to limit discussion, claiming discrimination since many other behaviors are also detrimental, and using vast amounts of money to overwhelm through paid lobbying efforts those voices who have no financial gain at stake.

      For me the question “why local” is quite simple. Davis is where I live.  I have been a local ob/gyn for years. I see my most effective scope as on the local and county level where I have served for years on a number of county health boards and committees. I have no state or federal “voice”, but do not see that as a reason to not promote healthier living strategies and hope that if enough communities join in, the practice will become more widely accepted.

    3. Richard C

      As David pointed out, I do not see this as an either/or approach.

      I agree that it’s not an either/or situation.  I’d just like to see some acknowledgement of this issue when talking about sugary beverage consumption.  What justification is there for having the federal government (i.e. the taxpayers) provide free sugary beverages to the poor and disadvantaged through SNAP benefits?

      1. Tia Will Post author

        Richard C

        What justification is there for having the federal government (i.e. the taxpayers) provide free sugary beverages to the poor and disadvantaged through SNAP benefits?”

        None at all in my mind.I would be supportive of such a measure which you correctly noted would require national action. However, with 30 years in medicine behind me, I have learned that I will have the greatest impact through local action. I have spent my career helping primarily individuals, and in some cases small groups improve their health through a variety of means including primary prevention, medical intervention when that fails, and as a last resort, surgery. Since this has been the basis for my career, I have not developed a national voice with which to affect national policies. If someone with such a voice were to make this a national priority, I would certainly support their efforts. As an individual, I have a “think globally, act locally” philosophy.

  3. Howard P

    I don’t have too many “dogs in this fight’, but,

    As someone who likes unsweetened iced tea, given the fact that many restaurants and pretty much all ‘fast food’ establishments, price iced tea at the same rate as a “sugary beverage” (due to the fact that there is generally one dispenser for all) I’m concerned I’ll be paying a tax on something I don’t consume.

    Shouldn’t there be a differentiation by grams or sugar/liter of beverage?  Should a ‘diet’ product be priced the same as a ‘super sugary’ drink?

    How is the tax collected by an entity that would fund the wonderful things proposed?  Will the entity be allowed to pay itself for collection, administration, and disbursement of the funds (including salary, benefits, overhead, etc.)?  What entities would actually provide the “things’?  How would they be chosen?  Theoretical concepts are great, but what about ‘boots on the ground’?

    Tia, you reference (without a cite) a UC study that indicates consumption went down after the tax… did they mean “sales within Berkeley” or “consumption by Berkeley residents”.  Big difference, particularly if there is a Costco/Walmart in close proximity to Berkeley.  And am interested how they could effectively get data on ‘consumption’…

    As Tia points out, there is no proposal on the table.  If my questions above are answered, might even support a specific measure… but I am very skeptical of how much the concept should be pursued.  If city staff time is involved, the time/costs should be tracked, and repaid by the first proceeds of such a tax.

    1. David Greenwald

      Here is how the tax works in Berkeley: “This is not a sales tax on consumers. This is not a tax on retailers. This is a tax on distribution companies, the 15-20 companies that contract with beverage makers to distribute their products in Berkeley. Distributors receive a notice on behalf of the city that the tax is due, they fill out the form and remit the tax monthly.”

      1. Howard P

        That seems to answer my first question… the price of iced tea will likely go up, as the retailer will not want to deal with differential pricing… to them, a soft drink is a soft drink.

        Would be interesting to see how much money is collected, where the money goes (and how they are chosen), what the admin costs for the program are, and whether they are funded by the proceeds… will probably take a few years to answer those.

  4. Dianne C Tobias

    Morning Tia!

    Thanks for sharing the Berkeley data since ‘the lack of’ was one of the arguments against last year. I look forward to disease outcome data in the future but imagine that might be difficult to determine. I will ask my Berkeley HS teacher son his views and his students’ views.

    1. Tia Will Post author

      Hi Dianne

      I also look forward to outcome data, but expect that will be a long time coming and will be difficult to sort out from other lifestyle changes such as increased exercise and other dietary changes.

      I look forward to hearing your son’s views.

  5. Howard P

    Thinking more… if sugary drinks are responsible for obesity, and obesity leads to type II diabetes, we should also tax all foods that lead to obesity.

    And to discourage obesity with financial incentives, we should tax obesity.  Use the proceeds to fund universal health care, but require annual check-ups/physicals to determine the amount of tax due, and collect it based on deviations from appropriate BMI values… those are at a healthy BMI pay nothing, and the more obese, the higher the tax.

    Not sure we could do that just in Davis, but I think it should be considered to achieve the goal of less individuals with type II diabetes, and the morbidity/mortality “costs” thereof…

    1. Jaroslaw Waszczuk


      How it was in USA 40 or 50 years ago  with drinking soda by people . As I understand and see for over 30 years in USA , Coca Cola and Pepsi were the symbols of American way to live . Today almost every  food product is loaded with corn syrup and gluten and other ingredients. If you kids looking like the big meat balls that I don’t think that such obesity being caused by the  Pepsi and Coca Cola .

      1. Howard P

        Multiple causes… when I was growing up, had maybe three coca-cola’s/7-ups (liked the latter, better) a week, A&W, and KFC was the only “fast food” around, and might have had something from one of those 4-5 times a year.

        We had real PE… and, after-school, during the summer, weekends, I and my ‘buds’ rode bikes to and from school (and just to explore), played tag and kick the can, pickup baseball games, flag football, etc.

        I played tennis, and ran X-country.  The only time I was aware of  “weight’ was when people said I was ‘thin’… not meant as a compliment.

        I gave up ‘soda’s in college… found that didn’t like carbonation much, unless it was a beer… no beer belly, have recently worn some clothes I never threw away from HS days… but prefer iced tea (and beer) over ‘soda’s.

        That was ~ 50 years ago… only diabetics I knew back then were type I… and all were on the skinny side.

        The only one that I know personally of was my GM, who had type II… she loved peaches (whole fruit, no sugar/syrup added), nectarines, and vanilla ice cream… probably diabetes shortened her life… she died at 98, two months short of her 99th…  yet considering those I’ve known (less well),  I’ve seen folk lose limbs, and die young, due to complications of what seems like a diabetes/obesity “complex”… my GM had diabetes, but was neither slim nor obese.


        1. Jaroslaw Waszczuk

          Thank you Howard for info.

          My weight was 160 when I came to USA . Now is?  forget it .  Exercise is the  Davis Vanguard  and 2 miles walk with my dog every day in Lodi Lake park. I am  over medicated and under dedicated .

      2. Tia Will Post author


        I have included a few quick, non scientific references to put into perspective how our eating habits and portion sizes have changed over time and how these changes have contributed to our problems with obesity. It is important to remember that in the US, our portion sizes have steadily risen while our exercise has declined.




        1. Jaroslaw Waszczuk

          Thank you Tia . I appreciate good info about . I was a heavy smoker but I decided that I have to quit because I calculated that for the money I spent on cigarettes I could make a  payment for my car.  I said to myself . I am not smoking from tomorrow and I did not touch cigarette for 12 years but I gain weight after I quit smoking by eating more food . Sometimes I am  thinking what is worse ?

        2. Howard P

          The use of nicotine is worse.  But not by much, compared to obesity.  Being obese and using nicotine is particularly bad…

          Some obesity is a ‘genetic’ predilection and/or glandular.  Think that is true of diabetes, but not anywhere near an expert on that.

          Any ‘addiction’ (nicotine, food, sugar, alcohol, drugs, etc.) is not good… but some are predisposed (genetic and/or ‘environmental’) to fall into those traps…

  6. Tia Will Post author

    Howard P

    if sugary drinks are responsible for obesity, and obesity leads to type II diabetes, we should also tax all foods that lead to obesity.”

    There are both medical and behavioral reasons for specifically targeting sugary beverages.

    1. The sugar load that can be consumed in one “serving” of a beverage greatly  exceeds what people can consume in one setting of other sweetened foods such as doughnuts, cakes, pies, candies.

    2. Because sugar in the liquid form is absorbed much more rapidly from the gastrointestinal tract it can exceed the ability of the pancreas liver to process the volume received over a short amount of time thus causing gradual damage over time.

    3. Sugar in beverage from typically does not limit other caloric intake in the way that sugar in solid food form does. It is common for an individual to drink one or two sodas with a meal. One typically does not eat a full meal and then 32 – 64 oz of dessert.

    4. Finally, although the following is anecdotal, it is an observation made over many, many years in my clinic. When doing a dietary history, most people will relate what they have had to eat. They frequently omit what they had to drink, even if the container is sitting on the counter of my office. When I then ask them what they have had to drink, there is frequently that “aha” moment for those who have told me that they exercise and “watch what they eat” but cannot manage their weight. Once they have discovered for themselves just how many calories they are drinking, we frequently have found a starting point.

    5. Lack of additional nutritional benefit. Sugary beverages are a logical intervention since, unlike almost every other food, they have no  mitigating nutritional value. An individual would be far better off with water which in most cases is free.

    1. Howard P

      To be clear, I was not advocating all or nothing… yet to truly achieve the goals, it must be multi-pronged, even if we only use one prong at a time.  I believe I either did not make that clear before, or you don’t wish to consider the other (next steps) approaches.

      I do not disagree with your other points… yet, I wonder about the ‘nutritional value’ of a donut (except perhaps for me, where I might benefit from more calories/carbs) is significant.

      But when I want a french silk pie, I get one, and love eating it… that happens ~ once every two years.

      Could personal metabolism and/or genetics have as much or more to do with type II diabetes than ‘sugary drinks’?  I truly don’t know.  But I fully understand there is a correlational (even if not causal) link between obesity and economic class, which may also be correlational (even if not causal) link between economic class and ethnicity.

      1. Tia Will Post author


        Could personal metabolism and/or genetics have as much or more to do with type II diabetes than ‘sugary drinks’?

        You have covered a number of good points in your post. Type II diabetes is known to be multifactorial including genetics, intrauterine conditions ( babies of obese mothers have a higher incidence of both obesity and Type II DM) and probably a whole host of other factors that we do not know about yet. However, I feel that it in health, it is most productive to concentrate our efforts on the things that we can control rather than those that we cannot. The obese woman cannot help it that her ancestors were obese. However she can gain control over her exercise pattern and her dietary choices, especially if she has ready access to affordable healthy foods. You used in one of your posts, the word multi-pronged and I completely agree that this is the type of comprehensive approach that I have endorsed for years with the sugary beverage tax just being one part of the effort.

        1. Howard P

          Meant as an honest question…

          If doctors advise patients as to obesity factors/management, as more and more folk are covered by insurance, and actually see doctors outside the ER, how would the revenues from the tax, coming from Davis ‘consumers’ help the goals?  Suspect Davis folk have relatively high access to medical care, compared to the State and national #’s (and %-ages).

          Probably (not sure) DJUSD educates on health issues… they have changed their school menus.

          What do we need to do in Davis, to ‘stem the tide’, as it were?  Or, would the money generated go to other communities?

          I know I’d be more supportive of a local tax if I knew that the proceeds would be effectively spent in the Davis community…

  7. Tia Will Post author

    Alan and Jerry

    Please don’t forget that these measures have only been in effect for a very short period of time. Certainly not long enough to assess overall patterns. But specifically speaking to Jerry’s point, please note the reduction in cigarette smoking over time.


    No public health measure will ever benefit 100% of the population. However, I would be happy if we were, using a similar multifaceted approach that worked with cigarette smoking, to obtain even a more modest reduction in soda consumption.

    1. Howard P

      Sorry… your goal is to reduce reduction of soda (sugary drink) consumption, above reduction in DM II?  If you equate the two, I understand… if not, I don’t.

      A lot of the reduction in cigarette use wasn’t necessarily the taxes… the mandatory warnings of health risks related to the use of tobacco products (printed on the products), could have had a similar or greater effect.  I just don’t know, but I remain a skeptic on a “not yet identified” concrete proposal for a local sugary drink tax.

      Skepticism does not necessarily equate to opposition…

        1. Tia Will Post author


          Did you notice that many dogs and cats are fat and they don’t drink sugary drinks.”

          I certainly have noticed that. No one is saying that sugary beverages are the only way that one can become fat. However, if one were to be giving one’s dog or cat large amounts of soda, do you not think it would be a good idea for their vet to advise them to stop ?


        2. Howard P

          Which actually gets to one of my posits.  Heredity/genetics…

          We’ve had two dogs now, where every time the food bowl is empty, we add food.  The eat only when they are hungry and ignore the food in the bowl in between.  They have both been on the lean side side, and the vet has never expressed any concern about weight/fat.  They also love(d) exercise, like chasing balls, frisbees or squirrels… they can/could run and jump like anything.

          Neither were labs… do what we do with a lab, and you’ll have a ‘chunky monkey’ in no time.  Found out a few months back that labs lack a gene to have their body tell their brain that they have had enough.

        1. Howard P

          But David, that was on a statewide basis… there is a huge “economies of scale” difference, both on revenue generated, due to the fact you couldn’t avoid the tax unless you went out of state or worked with the ‘black market’, and the education effort funded was state wide.

          Apples and oranges.

          But is appears that you are so wedded to the concept, you will tend to deny, ignore, and/or rebut any comment that either opposes or is skeptical of the concept… which is fine.

  8. Tia Will Post author


    Sorry… your goal is to reduce reduction of soda (sugary drink) consumption, above reduction in DM II?  If you equate the two, I understand… if not, I don’t.”

    I like skepticism. As a doctor, I view almost any new proposal with a healthy view of skepticism before implementing and advocating. But I do not feel that exact equivalency is necessary to prove efficacy.

    Let me give you a different example from another aspect of medicine. There are precancerous and invasive cancers of the breast. The two are not identical, but we have not yet sorted out the exact relationship nor which of the precancerous lesions will go on and turn into invasive cancer and which will not. Our current strategy is first, as always, primary prevention. There is much that we cannot change such as hereditary and individual hormonal factors. So we concentrate on those factors we can affect. Weight management is a major area for intervention since obese women over the age of 50 have a higher risk of breast cancer than normal weight individuals. Obesity is not the same as breast cancer, but we know that if we can prevent the development of obesity we will lower the risk of breast cancer.

    I believe that this is also true for the relationship between obesity and Type II diabetes. While the two are not identical, by addressing the common factors that we can, we can lessen the incidence of both.


    1. Howard P

      I understand the correlation between obesity and diabetes [yet not all obese folk develop diabetes… and many who develop DM II were never obese]… but linking sugary drinks to diabetes is a “double” correlation, and there are so many dependent and independent variables.  I just don’t know (I don’t think anyone does, for sure) how “causal” the link between sugary drinks and diabetes is…

      I do understand your analogy though… think it’s called ‘risk avoidance’…

      1. Tia Will Post author


        I just don’t know (I don’t think anyone does, for sure) how “causal” the link between sugary drinks and diabetes is…”

        I believe that if you were to read some of the actual research on the connection between rapid ingestion of sugar and the development of obesity and/or diabetes, you would be more convinced. The soda industry, just like the tobacco industry before it, is doing a very good job of casting doubt which has been a stated goal of both industries.

        You are correct that the two cannot be equated since some obese people do not develop Type II diabetes and some non obese people do. However, it is also true that some smokers live very long lives without acquiring lung cancer or emphysema. This does not mean that these are healthy practices just because some people beat the odds.

        You are correct that what I am advocating for is risk reduction and I believe it is clear that sugary beverage consumption is a risk factor for both obesity and diabetes.

        1. Howard P

          What you call ‘connection’, I use the term ‘correlation, but not necessarily causation’.  Perhaps we are talking the same thing, but using different words.  By the bulk of your post I am responding to, I am of the opinion we are on ‘common ground’, except perhaps on vocabulary.  Which would be trivial.

          I do not disagree, at all, with the goals, including:  reducing sugary drink intake, particularly for those prone to become obese from that; reducing consumption of other foods/substances likely to ‘promote’ obesity; encouraging/supporting those already obese to make life changes to reduce/eliminate their obesity; reduction of the morbidity/mortality for those with diabetes; etc.

          In my career, “time. place, manner” have been serious yardsticks… three tests, as you will (pun unintended, but like)…

          I am not convinced about a Davis-based sugary drink tax.  I would not oppose it per se, yet would not vote in favor of it… if it came to that, today.  If I were to vote tomorrow (on the concept), I’d vote NO.

          Proponents need to get more specific than philosophic theories.

  9. Tia Will Post author


    I know I’d be more supportive of a local tax if I knew that the proceeds would be effectively spent in the Davis community”

    I do not have enough experience in public health to adequately answer the questions you are posing in your post of 8:20 pm last night. My intent is to open the conversation and would have to leave most of the details to those with experience in public health and policy, of which fortunately our current mayor happens to be one.

    I do have an honest question for you based on my quote from your post of this morning. Why is it important for you that funds generated be used locally ?  It would seem to me that in the big picture, focusing funds raised on the areas of greatest need might have an even greater beneficial effect in the long run.

    1. Howard P

      No one has even posited, in a concrete way, how the money generated would be effectively used ANYWHERE, much less in Davis.  But why should Davis folk pay the tax if it was spent in LA?

      They would be more effective if they would make a direct contribution to those efforts, equal to or greater than the estimated tax they would pay.

        1. Howard P

          Good point… 2 years after passage there is a plan to fund a pilot program in the Berkeley schools.  Should the Davis-generated revenue go to the Berkeley schools?

          Or, if the Davis-generated money goes to DJUSD, why not cut out the middle-man and even if the Davis CC has to put it on the ballot, why should not DJUSD bear all of the costs to administer it?

          Don… there still has not been any concrete proposal for where Davis-generated revenue would be spent.

          1. Don Shor

            My suggestion would be that Davis-generated revenue go to fund educational and gardening programs in the Davis schools. There are already programs in place that could use the money. It could also go to fund recreation programs for kids. Lots of choices, and I’d think a task force could winnow through grant proposals each year and decide, perhaps with the default being to fund the first two I mentioned.
            I don’t really care who administers it.

        2. Howard P

          Don… your 1/8, 3:33 post…

          Don’t disagree with anything, except perhaps the last line… if the city administers it (collection, accounting, disbursement), the City should be fully reimbursed for the administrative costs.  Or, at an absolute minimum, the subsidy from the GF must be fully disclosed as part of the budget process.

          And DJUSD revenue via the proposed tax, should only be used to enhance existing Davis/DJUSD programs, not to displace $ already allocated to those programs.

          Davis generated revenue, used to enhance an existing DJUSD program without increasing staffing/costs, would pass my litmus test.  We have yet to see a concrete proposal.

  10. Tia Will Post author


    Which actually gets to one of my posits.  Heredity/genetics…”

    As the owner of a corgi, I love the dog stories. I almost accidentally turned our dog into a little “barrel corgi” by not appreciating how tiny caloric intakes such as licking my morning bowl of yogurt would have on a 25 lb dog. Once we appreciated her weight gain, we stopped the practice and she is back to her target weight.

    Heredity and genetics are indeed very important. Unfortunately, we are not yet medically sophisticated enough to target health recommendations with genetic precision. We will get to that point, but most likely, not in my lifetime. In the meantime, those of us who are not genetic researchers will have to content ourselves with primary prevention by stressing healthy lifestyles, by modeling best behaviors for our children and patients, and by the selective use of medications when the former prove inadequate. I feel that taxation of substances that are known to cause harm is a valid approach when combined with many other tactics such as those that proved effective in lowering the rates of tobacco usage.  I am probably much more firmly wedded to this addition to our armamentarium than is David. I realize that there will be limitations and objections some of which have merit. But I am firmly committed to a community wide consideration of the issue.


    1. Howard P

      Frankly, (although I’m not), I previously focused on what I’d want addressed in such a consideration… I have not advocated for “don’t even bring up the subject”.  I do want a rational discussion of the issues if it is considered, not just slogans like “it’s for the kids”, or accusing opponents of “being in favor of obese children who will get diabetes”.  We’ll see…

  11. Marina Kalugin

    rather than targeting ONE of the poisons which students are subjected to daily,  Davis should become a model city .. or rather Yolo should become a model county where ALL GMOs are banned…. not gonna be easy because Bayer/Monsanto mostly run the campus now..

    Why stop at sugary beverages?

    clean up the whole place.  no GMOs at school, no Monsanto fields in Woodland, no garbage “food-like” substances at Safeway or the other stores and fast food joints..

    throw out the dow chemical and Monsanto “seed” companies…  get the Mars company off campus..

    ya know. . this town may even have a chance then   ..  .enjoy the lovely storms … in PV the rainy season is over but we loved that also….


  12. Tia Will Post author

    Why stop at sugary beverages?”

    I do not believe that anyone has ever proposed “stopping at sugary beverages”. I am an advocate for many measures to improve health in our community. Like most professionals, I tend to focus on those items that have the most impact on my patients. Sugary beverages happen to be one which has a major impact on my patients and their children for whom I am responsible only as long as they are in utero.

    However, through my participation on the county health council, the MCAH and FIMR I have promoted a number of different issues. I spoke before the City Council recently regarding both opioid addiction and overdose and the epidemic ( used in the real, not hyperbolic sense) of obesity. Previously I have spoken up in the same venue regarding the fad of “vaping” and its adverse health consequences. You and I seem to be in agreement about the participation of the Mars company in an effort to purportedly  improve food supply for those in need.

    I know for myself, and for many members of the public health community including Mayor Davis, health and wellness are not “single issue” concerns but are rather about the overall promotion of best practices for developing healthy lifestyles within our communities.

  13. Tia Will Post author

    We have yet to see a concrete proposal.”

    It is exactly this that I would promote as our first step. I think that one year has been enough delay time ( in effect if not intent) and that the city should move forward with drafting a proposal for consideration. City Council, just as I said when speaking in public comment, your public health community sees a need and I am bouncing this ball squarely back into your court.

    If there is anything that I can do to help, I am more than willing to do so especially beginning in April post retirement.


    1. Howard P

      As far as ‘the City drafting a proposal’… I oppose that… staff time charged to the GF, trying to come up with something that the “I’m thinking of a number between 1 and 100, and won’t be satisfied until staff gets the answer right” crowd.

      I believe it is incumbent for those who favor a tax, to come up with a concrete proposal, then staff time to vet it would be much reduced.

      For my part, have laid out parameters that a tax proposal should address… IMHO.

      To which I will add… ‘what is the measure(s) of success, when will it be measured, and will there be a sunset clause if it proves ineffective?’ or should we all become “people of faith”, and make it permanent?

      1. Howard P

        Thinking a bit more, advocates drafting a proposal, and vetting it with the community as a whole, via VG or DE, or other, might be a good way of using a collaborative process… then once consensus is reached (at least as far as possible, with unresolved issues fully laid out) then city staff review could be focused on technical aspects… that’s an approach leading to CC consideration I could easily support

        1. Tia Will Post author


          I would be in favor of such an approach and will solicit thoughts about presenting an initial proposal for community discussion in this format upon my return to Davis, or after my retirement as time allows.

  14. Rachel At Aba

    Regarding the effect of soda taxes, it has been well-reported that they have never been shown to improve public health as was the case in Mexico, where a tax resulted in a reduction of only 4.9 calories per day in the average daily diet.
    With that said, America’s beverage companies know we must play a role in improving public health because we, too, want a strong healthy, America.  The better way solution to the obesity challenge is for public health advocates, government and industry to work together on meaningful steps that improve the health of individuals and communities. Beverage companies are doing their part by driving a reduction in the sugar and calories consumed from beverages across America.

  15. Tia Will Post author


    Regarding the effect of soda taxes, it has been well-reported that they have never been shown to improve public health as was the case in Mexico, where a tax resulted in a reduction of only 4.9 calories per day in the average daily diet.”

    I appreciate your input. I believe that the statistic that you site is a diversion and is common of industry manipulation of information to cast doubt on the possible effectiveness of a sugary beverage tax. The goal is not a “reduction of calories per average daily diet” but rather a decrease in the amount consumed. There is no doubt that many individuals will not ever be affected by an occasional or even daily sugary beverage but this is completely beside the point that these beverages are a major contributory factor in the development of obesity and Type II diabetes for many others. The “average” does not tell the entire story as I am sure that you are aware.

    Beverage companies are doing their part by driving a reduction in the sugar and calories consumed from beverages across America.”

    First, beverage companies are not “driving a reduction in the sugar and calories consumed from beverages”. If they had been the “driving force” this would have been accomplished many years ago. They are taking this step under pressure and as a means of risk reduction, not for the individuals who consume their products, but to protect their bottom line.

    I will believe that beverage companies are “doing their part” when they enact all of the following steps :

    1. Standardize the cost of their beverages as Sean noted in the first response post.

    2. Voluntarily label their products as harmful. Promote the use of water as the most healthful beverage.

    3. Decrease their recommended serving sizes and stop promotion of the “big gulps” and other serving sizes greater than 6-8 oz

    4. Stop promoting sugary beverages as sexy, part of a loving relationship, necessary for a good time, related to world peace, in any way related to cute polar bears and other cloying social messages. Remember Joe Camel ?  Sugary beverage companies have not left this model behind.

    5. Voluntarily remove their sugary products from venues that target habituation of children and teens such as from schools, and children’s special events.

    6. Voluntarily limit their advertising to prime time  or “adult ” hours on television and remove their advertisements from movies aimed at children.

    I am sure that there are many, many ways that the sugary beverage industry could “do its part” that I am not thinking of currently. Perhaps you have other ideas about what part they could play in harm reduction for their customers. I would be very open to any other suggestions. 

    America’s beverage companies know we must play a role in improving public health because we, too, want a strong healthy, America.”

    Your choice of pronouns suggests to me that you are a representative of a beverage company. Vanguard readers all know about my background and what drives my interest in this topic. I would appreciate any information that you would care to share with us about your personal and or professional interest in this topic.

    1. Howard P

      Tia… ABA… google it… and not the American Bar Association…

      Both sides, pro and con, need to provide honest cites to their broad claims… IMHO…

      As it stands, I’m as skeptical of Rachel’s claims as I am of Tia’s… have relatives in Missouri… the “show me” state…


      1. Tia Will Post author

        Hi Howard

        Yes, I know what the ABA is. I was inviting Rachel to share more about her role which I realize I artificially and incorrectly narrowed by using the word “company” as opposed to advocacy group.  I am still hoping that she will.

        Also, I am curious about your take on the articles that I did post if you read them. If you have specific questions about the medical aspects and impacts of sugary beverages, obesity and/or DM II, I will be more than happy to site specific references…..probably upon my return on Saturday. Just let me know what your areas of skepticism are and I will address them as honestly and with as much supportive evidence as I can.

        1. Howard P

          Context is everything… I challenged Rachel to give cites to back up her claims… I felt I could do no less on the other side, as a skeptic… same game, same rules…

          Will let you know if/when I need more cites… in the meantime, suggest when you make a claim, cite support… not just for me, but for any one who is unsure/skeptical.

          Enjoy your time off…

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