SUpport California's Soda Tax

1. Add your organization to our sign-on letter to the committee before April 21.

2. Contact these key legislators with a call and a tweet.

April 18, 2019

Last night, food journalist, thought leader and health advocate Michael Pollan came out in support of AB138, California's sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) tax. You can see his video below.

He's not alone. Public health experts, community members, doctors and dentists all agree: liquid sugar is bad for our teeth, bad for our health and bad for our communities—and a SSB tax is the right way to hold big beverage companies accountable for the damage their products cause and build equity in communities. 

But we need three key votes early next week to get this critical bill to the floor. Join Michael Pollan and other advocates and leaders: contact these three Assemblymembers TODAY and urge them to support AB 138. Even if you don't live in their districts, we need you to speak up now.


Studies show that SSB taxes decrease soda purchases, increase water sales, and don't impact store revenues—plus, they raise millions for communities. With your help, California could become the first state in the nation to pass a sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) tax with AB 138, which would impose a 2 cent per ounce tax on SSBs and create the California Community Health Fund to reinvest funds in under-resourced communities throughout the state.
Learn more about AB 138 in a new video from Michael Pollan: 

Please contact these legislators after you've contacted Assemblymembers Burke, Quirk and Rivas: 

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April 15, 2019

The Honorable Autumn Burke
Chair, Assembly Committee on Revenue & Taxation
Legislative Office Building
1020 N Street, Room 167A
Sacramento, CA 95814

RE: AB 138 (Bloom): California Community Health Fund – Letter of Support

Dear Assemblymember Burke: The undersigned organizations strongly support Assembly Bill (AB) 138 which places a $0.02 per fluid ounce tax on sugary drinks and we urge your support when the legislation is heard before the Committee on Revenue and Taxation. The legislation establishes the California Community Health Fund and will equip the state with dedicated resources to promote health equity and prevent the human and economic costs of the leading causes of illness and premature death, especially those caused by sugary drink consumption.

AB 138 advances sound, evidence-based policy to directly confront and respond to this threat to our state’s health and economic well-being.

In our state almost 3 million residents have now been diagnosed with diabetes. This epidemic cost California over $39 billion in 2017: $27 billion in healthcare costs, the majority paid for by government, and $12 billion in indirect costs, including lost productivity and absenteeism from illness, disability, early death and caregiving. [1]

Diabetes and heart disease—which is what kills most people with diabetes—are two of the leading causes of death in our state and this burden does not fall equally. African-Americans in California die from diabetes two and a half times more often than white residents and are hospitalized for diabetes over three times more often than whites. Latinos are almost twice as likely as whites to die from or be hospitalized for diabetes. If we do nothing, it is predicted that 50% of Latino and African American children born since the year 2000 will develop type 2 diabetes during their lifetime.

Research demonstrating the direct link between sugary drinks and diabetes is incontrovertible; the links to obesity are even more established. [2,3,4,5] We also know that the consumption of sugary drinks is a significant driver of fatty liver disease [6], heart disease, stroke [7], dental caries [8], kidney disease [9] and is associated with some cancers. [10]

California urgently needs a dedicated revenue source to fully address these epidemics and the conditions that impact quality and length of life and generate health inequities. When one considers the hidden diabetes “tax” paid by all families through higher insurance premiums, expensive medication, lost work time and caregiving [11], it makes sense to place the cost of the response on sugar loaded beverages.

As significant taxation of sugar sweetened beverages has spread worldwide, substantial research has accumulated showing these are win-win strategies. They lower consumption of a harmful product and raise revenue to invest in critical community needs. Findings from recent research conducted in California and elsewhere include:

  • Research evaluating the first year of the City of Berkeley tax on sugar sweetened beverages, published in PLoS Medicine, found that the tax accomplished its key goals of reducing sugary drink consumption and raising revenue to support community health and nutrition, without evidence of harms to local business or higher grocery bills for consumers.
  • Examining 15.5 million grocery store visits in the Bay Area, the research found that after the tax sales of sugary drinks declined 10%, while sales of water rose 16%, and sales of healthier drinks increased as did overall beverage sales. Average store revenue per checkout was not harmed, and average grocery bills for consumers did not rise [12]. Those changes were not only sustained but grew over time.
  • A large survey in low income Berkeley neighborhoods after one and three years of the tax found a 21% and 44% decline in sugary drink consumption, respectively [13]. Revenues are promoting nutrition and community health interventions.
  • In Philadelphia there was a 40% decline in daily sugar sweetened beverage consumption after 2 months of the tax, which funds parks, pre-K and community schools. [14]
  • In the United Kingdom, the sugar content of beverages fell by 11% after passage even before the tax went into effect, and funds are promoting physical activity in schools [15]. It is estimated that these taxes will have a $55:$1 return on investment in reduced healthcare costs over ten years. [16]

Soda taxes do not hurt employment, contrary to claims from industry. Studies of employment after the tax in Mexico [17], Philadelphia [18] and Berkeley [19] showed no evidence of negative impact. Indeed, these taxes don’t make people less thirsty; people switch to water and other healthier drinks.

California children and families deserve better than the status quo. AB 138 will enable the State of California to invest in communities, working to lift the burden of diseases related to the consumption of sugary drinks, and to address the unacceptable disparities in health that affect our residents.

For these reasons, the undersigned organizations are pleased to support this important legislation and we respectfully ask for your “AYE” vote.


<<Organization Names>>

CC: Members of the Assembly Committee on Revenue and Taxation, Assembly Member Richard Bloom, David Ruff, Chief Consultant Assembly Committee on Revenue and Taxation



Watch a new video from our Roots of Change on how a state soda tax can make communities healthier
and then share it on twitter.

Letter citations

American Diabetes Association. Economic Costs of Diabetes in the U.S. in 2017 Diabetes Care 2018 Mar; dci180007 .

Hu FB, Malik VS. Sugar-sweetened beverages and risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes: Epidemiologic evidence. Physiol Behav 2010;100:46-54.

Vartanian LR, Schwartz MB, Brownell KD. Effects of soft drink consumption on nutrition and health: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Public Health 2007;97:667-675.

de Koning L, Malik VS, Rimm EB, Willett WC, Hu FB. Sugar-sweetened and artificially sweetened beverage consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes in men. Am J Clin Nutr 2011;93:1321-1327.

Malik VS, Popkin BM, Bray GA, Després JP, Willett WC, Hu FB. Sugar-sweetened beverages and the risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes: A meta-analysis. Diabetes Care 2010;33:2477-2483.

Abid A, Taha O, Nseir W, Farah R, Grovsovki M, Assy N. Soft drink consumption is associated with fatty liver disease independent of metabolic syndrome. J Hepatol. 2009. 5:918-24.

Bernstein AM, de Konig L, Flint AJ, Rexrode KM, Willett WC. Soda consumption and the risk of stroke in men and women. Am J Clin Nutr 2011; 93:1321-1327.

Wiener RC, Shen C, Findley PA, Sambamoorthi U, Tan X.J Am Dent Assoc. 2017 Jul;148(7):500-509.e4. doi: The association between diabetes mellitus, sugar-sweetened beverages, and tooth loss in adults: Evidence from 18 states. 10.1016/j.adaj.2017.03.012. Epub 2017 May 5.

Saldana TM, Basso O, Darden R, Sandler DP. Carbonated beverages and chronic kidney disease. Epidemiology. 2007 4:501-506.

Hodges AM,  Bassett, JK Milne RL, English DR, Giles GG. Consumption of sugar-sweetened and artificially sweetened soft drinks and risk of obesity-related cancers. Public Health Nutrition: 21(9), 1618–1626 doi:10.1017/S1368980017002555  

Dall TM, Zhang Y, Chen YJ, Quick WW, Yan Wg, Gogli J. The economic burden of diabetes. Health Affairs. 2010; 29(2): 297-300.

Silver LD, Ng SW, Ryan-Ibarra S, Taillie LS, Induni M, Miles DR, Poti JM, Popkin BM. (2017) Changes in prices, sales, consumer spending, and beverage consumption one year after a tax on sugar- sweetened beverages in Berkeley, California, US: A before-and-after study. PLoS Med 14(4): e1002283.

Guerrero-López CM, Molina M2, Colchero MAEmployment changes associated with the introduction of taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages and nonessential energy-dense food in Mexico. Prev Med. 2017 Dec;105S:S43-S49. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2017.09.001. Epub 2017 Sep 8.

Philadelphia Department of Revenue. Wage Tax Collections Show Strength in Beverage-related Businesses. Office of the Mayor. September 18, 2017.

Silver L. Berkeley’s Sugar Sweetened Beverage Tax What Happened to Jobs & Business Revenue? Public Health Institute, Oakland 2017. Accessed at: