Berkeley to impose first soda 'sin' tax

Voters in Berkeley, California became the first in the country to approve a soda "sin" tax, less than five months after New York City's big-soda ban was killed in court.

Seventy-five percent of Berkeley voters backed the tax, which will charge a penny per ounce of sugar-sweetened beverages sold in the city. The levy will apply to beverage distributors, not retailers or consumers, according to reports.

The tax represents a win for public health advocates and a defeat for the beverage industry, though companies managed to fight off a similar measure in San Francisco.

That two-cents-an-ounce tax received only 54.5 percent of the vote, less than the two-thirds necessary for passage.

More than two dozen other cities and states have sought to impose taxes on sugar-sweetened soda to lower consumption and improve health.

The movement has become a flashpoint in debates over taxes and government regulation, with conservatives blasting the measures as evidence of a "nanny state."

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg sought to ban the sale of large sugary drinks in 2012, but the state's highest court rejected the move in June.