UPDATE 1-San Francisco sets vote on soda tax amid battle on health warnings

jueves 23 de junio de 2016 14:41 GYT

(Adds comment on likelihood of passage in paragraphs 12, 13; edits)

By Chris Prentice and Luc Cohen

NEW YORK, June 23 (Reuters) - San Francisco residents will have a second chance to vote on whether to tax soda after city officials this week added the measure to a November ballot that could result in more of the Bay Area being subject to the controversial levy.

Nearby Berkeley, California, already imposes such a tax. The move comes amid San Francisco's legal battle with the soda industry to introduce warnings on advertisements for beverages with added sugar, noting that they contribute to obesity, diabetes and tooth decay.

San Francisco would be the first U.S. city to introduce the labeling. A vote in favor of a San Francisco soda tax could add further strength to national moves to deter consumption of the sugary drinks, which have parallels with efforts to reduce tobacco consumption.

The ballot initiative comes almost two years after an earlier measure was unsuccessful and raises the prospect the tax will spread to much of the Bay Area's northern region, which economists say could heighten the policy's effectiveness.

Two Berkeley neighbors - Oakland and Albany - will also vote in November on a soda tax. If the measures there and in San Francisco are successful, the sugary beverage tax would expand to a population of over 1.4 million in the Bay Area.

Covering a broader area could alleviate a key concern about the success of soda taxes: that they can be undermined by cross-border shopping. In Berkeley, some research has suggested businesses did not fully pass along the tax for fear of losing customers to stores in neighboring cities.

The addition on Tuesday of the levy to the ballot came the day after Philadelphia's mayor signed a sweet beverage levy, making the city the largest in the nation with an ounce-based tax on sweet drinks.   Continuación...