An Overview of the Oakland Soda Tax.


In November 2016, 61% of Oakland voters approved a Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Distribution Tax Ordinance (Measure HH).8 Measure HH establishes a tax of one cent
per fluid ounce on the distribution of sugar-sweetened beverages, defined as soda, energy drinks, sweetened teas, juices, and waters; certain forms of sweeteners found in infant formula, milk products, and natural fruit and vegetable juices are exempted.

The tax is paid by distributors –entities that bring sugar-sweetened beverages into Oakland – including retailers who sell sugar-sweetened beverages and are known as “self distributors.” The tax is imposed on the distributors, who then may increase the price of product to compensate for the tax. No tax is imposed directly on consumers.

Although the spirit of the ordinance includes a promise to allocate monies generated toward public health and community development programs, revenue from the tax will be deposited into the city’s general fund and can legally be used for any
legitimate government purpose.

The tax took effect on July 1,
2017; the mayor and city council
appointed a nine-member Soda Tax
Advisory Board. The members are:

  • Gema Cardenas
  • Donna Carey
  • Jared Fine
  • Julia Liou
  • Tonya Love
  • Kim Martinez
  • Renia Webb
  • Priscilla Wilson
  • Esperanza Pallana

The Soda Tax Advisory Board will be responsible for (1) making recommendations to the City Council on creating and/or funding programs that
prevent or reduce the health consequences
of consuming sugar-sweetened beverages, and (2) reporting on the implementation of the measure. Oakland City Council, however, has the final say on allocation and implementation of the tax revenue.