American Beverage Association goes all out in California fight against beverage taxes

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Tawanda kanhema and Stephen Hobbs – Richmond Confidential

Committees backed by the American Beverage Association have spent $3.5 million total to defeat measures proposing one cent per ounce taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages in Richmond and El Monte, CA.

Campaign filings submitted to the city of El Monte this week show that the No on H, El Monte Citizens Against Beverage Taxes, has spent $1.3 million on efforts to defeat the tax. In Richmond the Community Coalition Against Beverage Taxes has spent $2.2 million to defeat the measure. The ABA is the sole funder of both committees.

“Our support of the no campaigns is an extension of our efforts we have been involved with all over the country,” said Karen Hanretty, the ABA’s vice president of public affairs. “Wherever these threats arise we are going to play an active role so our products are not singled out.”

Although the two cities are separated by close to 400 miles, the strategy for both committees has been much of the same  – spend heavily for political consultants and media campaigns to win support against the measure, and use local movie theaters and billboards to help spread the message.

In El Monte, as in Richmond, the coalition against the beverage taxes has teamed up with local movie theaters for trailer time and campaign materials. In Richmond it is the Century Hilltop 8 theater owned by Cinemark, USA, in El Monte, the theater is the El Monte 8, owned by Regal Entertainment Group.

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