Letter to California State Assembly Supporting Repeal of Sugary Drink Tax Preemption

March, 26, 2021

The Honorable Autumn Burke
Chair, Assembly Committee on Revenue and Taxation
State Capitol, Room 5152
Sacramento, CA 95814

Re: AB 1163 (Nazarian): Local government: taxation — SUPPORT
As Introduced March 12, 2021

Dear Chair Burke:

The National Center for Health Research supports AB 1163, which would repeal the current law that preempts local governments from imposing future taxes on sugary drinks. Research clearly shows that drinking more sugary drinks increases the risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. The public health is harmed because these products are heavily marketed, especially to children. Nevertheless, if sugary drinks were more expensive, they would be consumed less.

The National Center for Health Research conducts, analyzes, and explains the latest research and works with patients, consumers, and opinion leaders to use that information to improve their own health and to develop better programs, policies, and services. Sugary beverages represent the largest calorie source in an American teen’s diet — and the largest calorie count for many adults as well. Advocating for policies that improve public health is vital to our mission. The statewide ban imposed in 2018 on all California local governments from adopting sugary drink taxes through 2030 was harmful to the health of adults and children. The ban was driven by pressure from special interests and business groups, leaving local governments and the communities they serve without this possible revenue option. As a result, locally approved sugary taxes are off the table in California, regardless of the need or interest within the community.

Repealing the preemption is not a tax, because it would restore the right for local governments to consider all strategies to address health inequities and fund critical services. AB 1163 would restore the right of cities and counties, and their voters, to impose future taxes on sugary drinks should they choose to do so.

For these reasons, the National Center for Health Research strongly supports AB 1163 (Nazarian) and respectfully asks for an AYE vote in the Assembly Revenue and Tax Committee.


Dr. Diana Zuckerman
National Center for Health Research