Berkeley vs. Big Soda

Courtesy of The Ecology Center.

Berkeley vs. Big Soda website.


With this film, we aim to normalize the idea of soda taxes nationally, energize communities on the verge of launching their own campaigns, and support advocates already in the trenches. We want the film to inspire conversations.


This is the story of how Berkeley took on Big Soda – and won

Berkeley’s soda tax passed in a landslide in November 2014. This was a victory for health, for communities of color and their kids, and for people-powered democracy against one of the biggest global industries – Big Soda.

Berkeley community members took on the soda tax campaign because we face a serious health crisis: 40% of kids will get diabetes in their lifetimes unless we do something about it. The link between sugary drinks and diseases like diabetes is undeniable.

Berkeley’s soda tax is a penny-per-ounce tax paid by distributors of sugary drinks, like soda, energy drinks, and sugary coffee syrups. The soda tax established a panel of health experts to advise Berkeley’s City Council on how to use the tax money to support programs to reduce sugary drink consumption and improve children’s health.

The community in Berkeley took on Big Soda and prevailed, against all odds. The American Beverage Association poured over $2.4 million dollars into our city and expected to crush the effort, like they had so many others. But our community coalition held firm and fought back with the power of relationships: grassroots organizing, volunteers, and thousands of conversations between neighbors, parents, and friends. This victory belongs to all of us.

Now, we want to tell the story of how Berkeley took on Big Soda and won – so communities everywhere can watch, learn, and think about their own strategies to stand up for health.

Explore this site:

  • Watch videos that capture the story of the campaign.
  • Learn more about Berkeley’s soda tax in our Frequently Asked Questions.
  • Follow media about the campaign by visiting Press Coverage, and see the archive of Op-Eds and Press Releases.
  • Explore links from health researchers studying soda consumption & taxes, and visit sites of related campaigns.
  • Find out who was part of Berkeley’s campaign on our Supporters page.

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