Online Program

From the Front Lines: Challenges and Successes of the San Francisco Soda Tax Campaign

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 : 8:30 a.m. - 8:45 a.m.

Robin Dean, Master's in Public Health, Robin Dean and Associates, Oakland, CA
Christina Goette, MPH, Choose Health SF, San Francisco, CA
Janna Cordeiro, MPH, Choose Health SF, San Francisco, CA
On November 4, 2014,  San Franciscans voted on a measure that would have placed a two cents per ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages (the key contributors to sugar in our diet), and ultimately curbed soaring rates of obesity and diabetes.  The tax also would have raised up to $54 million a year for targeted recreation and nutrition programs.  The measure failed to get the two-thirds majority needed to pass, but 56% of the voters approved the tax despite nearly $10 million spent by the American Beverage Association to defeat it.  We present participatory research that provides insights into the campaign's experiences, challenges, and successes as told by the advocates themselves - not by political pundits or other outside observers.  

Shortly after the election, 39 campaign volunteers and political consultants (67% of those surveyed) responded to an anonymous survey designed and issued by a small group of volunteers who also worked on the election.  Everyone who had received the survey was asked for their input on a preliminary analysis before the results were finalized.  This was followed up with a facilitated conversation among the participants about the results, and a discussion of next steps for reducing soda consumption in the city.

Presented findings cover participants' motivations for getting involved in the campaign; campaign arguments that resonated with voters; the campaign's strengths, challenges, and impact; and what the city should do next to help reduce sugary drink consumption.  Recommendations for others considering launching a soda campaign of their own are also discussed.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Chronic disease management and prevention
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Describe three key San Francisco Soda Tax campaign challenges. Describe three key San Francisco Soda Tax campaign successes. Identify at least three strategies for passing a soda tax in other local jurisdictions.

Keyword(s): Advocacy, Politics

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: A food and fitness policy professional and advocate for the last 10 years, I co-authored this participatory study summarizing the results of a survey of 39 San Francisco soda tax campaign advocates on the campaign's challenges, successes, and next steps.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.