Op-ed: Measure D — a doctor’s perspective

I am a Berkeley doctor. I support Measure D, and want to comment on specious and incorrect arguments by Jill Herschman and Dan McDunn, both of whom argued against the measure in op-ed pieces published on Berkeleyside.

I assume that the flyers with the allegations summarized below, and distributed door to door with the statement “Paid for by No on D ….” by the American Beverage Association PAC ” do contain original belief statements written by the two Berkeley residents named above. [Ed: the two op-eds were reprinted by the No on D campaign and distributed throughout Berkeley.]

Claim 1: Diet drinks “play role in obesity and diabetes:” Yes in small way substituting them for sugar drinks and juices diminish symptom severity of diabetes and obesity

Claim 2: Diet drinks are “known” human carcinogens This is nonsense.

Claim 3: “Demonic” corporations manufacture both diet and sugar drinks True, but the companies are no more “demonic” than General Motors or Apple Computer

Claim 4: Both products are “addictive” No, neither product is addictive, if the definition of addiction involves the clinical phenomena of tolerance, overdose, withdrawal syndrome, toxicity symptoms and behavioral disability.

Claim 5: Tax will drive people to drive to other areas wasting money Highly improbable for a few cents saving.

Claim 6: Beverage tax allows “government into the bedroom” No, this is not private matter but a public health matter. Does Ebola virus prevention spread  represent an unwarranted intrusion of big government into our private rights?

Claim 7: Measure is called “toothless” No it is sugar exposure that contributes to dental disease.

Claim 8: Tax will “buy the city more rope to hang itself with”, and Berkeley’s “fiscal house is in complete disarray” I think Berkeley government is imperfect too, but, unlike the authors, I want to use my vote to change it, not diatribes and wrong ideas.

Berkeleyside welcomes submissions of op-ed articles. We ask that we are given first refusal to publish. Topics should be Berkeley-related, local authors are preferred, and we don’t publish anonymous pieces. Please email submissions to us. Berkeleyside will publish op-ed pieces at its discretion.

Peter Barglow, MD, is a clinical professor of medicine and psychiatry at UC Davis Medical School, and a Berkeley resident.