In 2012, the California cities Richmond and El Monte asked voters to consider a penny-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs). The measures appeared on the ballot alongside companion advisory policies that proposed earmarking revenue from the tax for youth obesity prevention programs and, in El Monte, for other city services as well. The soda industry launched a $4 million campaign to defeat the two proposals, making the soda taxes the focus of the most expensive election campaigns in either city’s history. The SSB ballot measures were rejected in the November 2012 election (by 67% in Richmond and 77% in El Monte), although the advisory policies that accompanied them passed by wide margins. This report highlights key aspects of how the news covered the proposals, including the type and volume of coverage they received, who was quoted, and the arguments made by advocates and opponents of the policies. The report concludes by discussing lessons learned from the media coverage in these two communities and provides recommendations for advocates to strengthen future efforts to regulate sugary beverages in other communities.
Two Communities, Two Debates: News Coverage of Soda Tax Proposals in Richmond and El Monte
Big Soda’s Long Shadow: News Coverage of Local Proposals to Tax Sugar-Sweetened Beverages in Richmond, El Monte and Telluride
Taxing sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) has been identified as a key policy lever to reduce consumption of sugary drinks and to fund nutrition and physical activity programs. This paper analyzes news coverage of three SSB tax proposals in Richmond and El Monte, Calif., and Telluride, Colo., in 2012 and 2013. Although … More
The purpose of this project is to understand public debates regarding proposed local soda taxes based on experiences during 2012 in the cities of Richmond and El Monte, California, so that future ballot initiatives might better anticipate what to expect when sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) taxes are presented to local voters. … More
U.S. states have introduced bills requiring sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) to display health warning labels. This study examined how warning labels influence parents and which labels are most effective. Over 2,000 demographically and educationally diverse parents of children ages 6 to 11 participated in an online survey. Parents were randomized to … More