Voters in Berkeley and San Francisco had the opportunity on November 4 to decide whether to approve taxes on “sugary soda.” The Berkeley measure passed 75%-25%; the San Francisco one failed 55%-45% (A 2/3rds supermajority applies because revenues would have been earmarked for specific purposes).
As Pigouvian “sin” taxes, each initiative suffered from certain design limitations. Their effect on this particular sin would be extremely difficult to observe even if every scientific claim made about the adverse health effect of sugar-sweetened beverages was true. Consumer are free to purchase taxed beverages outside of Berkeley, or substitute other forms of sugar for sugar-added beverages. And not all beverages containing sugar are covered by the tax.