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Model California Ordinance Imposing a Business License Tax on Sugary Drinks

A strategy to reduce consumption of sugary drinks

Model Legal Document
Food & Beverages

Over the last 30 years, obesity and overweight rates have soared.

More than two thirds of adults and nearly one third of youth aged two to nineteen years in the United States are overweight or obese. Research consistently shows that drinking sugar-sweetened beverages is a contributing factor to high rates of overweight and obesity, as well as related chronic diseases, including diabetes and heart disease. As communities work to reduce obesity and related chronic health conditions, they are exploring a range of programmatic and policy approaches to reduce sugary drinks consumption.

This model legislation is intended to be used by public health advocates who would like to propose a local tax as one strategy to potentially reduce consumption of sugary drinks and raise revenue. It addresses the steps for passing a tax in a California city or county. While the Model Legislation is specific to California, the general principles discussed, as well as much of the specific language of the Model Legislation, are applicable to communities across the country.

This model includes two sets of documents, one for a general business license tax and one for a special business license tax.

We have also included model findings, which are appropriate for both the general and special tax measures. For updated model findings, see our guide, A Legal and Practical Guide for Designing Sugary Drink Taxes, for local officials and advocates who are interested in pursuing sugary drink taxes.