Voters in California have rejected two soda tax proposals that were part of local government anti-obesity drives, according to reports.

Some 67% opposed the US$0.01 duty for every ounce of sugary beverage in the Bay Area city of Richmond, while 77% voted it down in El Monte, the LA Times reported today (8 November). Both measures drew strong attacks from the beverage industry, with opposition committees spending a combined US$3.5m, the newspaper said.

“What we found was, the more people knew about it, the more they didn't like it," the Times quoted El Monte opposition spokesperson Fred Muir as saying. “They don't like the idea of (the city government) trying to legislate their behaviour, and they don't like the impact on small businesses.”

The proposed taxes follow a move to ban large sugary soft drinks in New York City, due to come into effect next March. However, Mayor Bloomberg's legislation is facing a legal challenge