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Soda Tax Supporters Shake Up Debate with Giant Can of Diabetes, Severed Legs


The war on soda continued to rage over the weekend, as supporters of the proposed soda tax took their anti-soda messages to the streets of San Francisco and Berkeley. Weekend visitors to Dolores Park, Crissy Field and Hayes Valley were all treated to the looming presence of "Canzilla", a giant inflatable soda can in the style of a Coke can, emblazoned with the word "Diabetes". The enormous can is linked to Soda tax supporters The Bigger Picture, a collaboration between Youth Speaks and the UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations. Other groups of supporters littered Dolores Park with over 200 mannequin legs, to bring awareness to the prevalence of amputation in sufferers of Type 2 Diabetes.

The tax measure, Proposition E, would apply a tax of 2 cents to every ounce of "sugary drinks" sold in San Francisco. Proponents say the tax could bring in revenue of over $54 million, to be dedicated to school lunch programs, physical eduation, active recreation and food access in schools and throughout the city. Brought to the ballot by San Francisco Supervisors Scott Weiner and Eric Mar, the measure requires two-thirds of votes for approval, sparking a heated debate between supporters of the tax and the beverage industry.

The progressive cities of San Francisco and Berkeley are considered the last chance for soda tax supporters nationwide, as the initiative has failed on ballot after ballot across the country. "Big Soda" has already spent an estimated $9 million in opposition to the measures, via TV and radio ads, billboards and a public relations campaign. In opposition, supporters of the tax have launched their own campaigns to bring awareness of the negative effects of sugary beverages on consumers’ health via TV ads, signage, fliers and demonstrations like "Canzilla".

The vote to determine whether the tax will take effect occurs this week.