The tax will charge one cent per ounce

The tax will charge one cent per ounce

The US soft drinks industry has hit back at a vote in a Californian city in favour of adopting a sugar tax, saying the Berkeley referendum was more a “political statement” than “sound public policy".

The American Beverage Association (ABA) told just-drinks today that the decision, the first of its kind in the US, was not representative of the rest of the country. The group also highlighted that San Francisco yesterday rejected a similar tax.

“By no means does this vote portend a trend,” an ABA spokesperson said. “The activists picked the lowest hanging piece of fruit on their quest for discriminatory taxes.”

Berkeley residents yesterday approved a US$0.01-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened drinks, with about three-quarters voting in favour of so-called Measure D, according to reports. San Francisco failed to pass a $0.02-per-ounce tax on soda and other sugary drinks, however while the Berkeley vote required a simple majority, the San Francisco referendum required two-thirds approval.

Berkeley is the first US city to pass a law taxing sugary drinks.

The ABA added: “What happened in Berkeley was more about making a political statement than it was sound public policy. We will continue working with serious policy leaders to focus on meaningful solutions that address the complex issue of obesity.”

The twin votes in California were hotly contested, with the ABA supporting a No vote with a reported US$11m in funding.