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"Big Soda Profits; Health and Voters Lose": PHI Statement on passage of AB 1838

June 28, 2018


"The Public Health Institute is deeply disappointed at the passage of AB 1838 (Ting), the budget trailer bill that will prevent California residents from passing laws in their cities and counties to tax sugar sweetened beverages. 


"Let there be no doubt, today Big Soda put their profits first over the health and well-being of Californians, and extorted a heavy price from members of the legislature and California communities.


"As one member put it, legislators and Governor Brown were between a rock and a hard place. One choice was to face the daunting task of defeating Big Soda's ballot initiative — the Tax Fairness, Transparency and Accountability Act — this November, which would decimate local revenue for community services, parks, public safety, and libraries. The other was to pass AB 1838, which pre-empts the right of local voters to decide what's best for their health and communities. Back room wheeling and dealing over this past weekend meant that if today's bill passed, the Big Soda initiative would be removed from the November ballot.


"Like many of the legislators, PHI was shocked and chagrined to see the voting rights and health of California communities bartered away to bolster Big Soda profits. While we are saddened by today’s action, we welcomed the strong statements from legislators who spoke passionately about the the serious harm caused by sugar sweetened beverages and called for the beverage industry to be held accountable for its actions.


"PHI stands ready to work with our elected leaders, members of the community, our public health allies, and with California labor to introduce legislation that will establish a statewide soda tax. The soda companies have had their say; now it is time for communities and those concerned about the health of California to have ours."