Soda tax battle bubbles up in San Francisco Bay Area

Opponents worry that a grocery tax will lead to higher prices

The national fight over sugary soda is bubbling up in the San Francisco Bay Area, where voters in November will consider a tax on the drinks that many health experts say contribute to diabetes, obesity and tooth decay.

Backers of the campaign say a penny-per-ounce tax is needed in San Francisco, Oakland and tiny Albany to curb consumption of sweetened cola, sports drinks and canned teas that people gulp without thinking, adding empty calories.

Opponents, however, say a "grocery tax'' will lead to higher prices on other goods, hurting small businesses and customers struggling to survive in one of the country's most expensive places. They also say government can spend the revenue however they want.

Voters in Berkeley approved a sugary-soda tax in 2014. Philadelphia approved a tax this year.