Washington Voters Pass Big Soda-Funded Initiative 1634

Cancer Advocates Oppose Preemption of Local Control That Puts Public Health at Risk 

November 7, 2018

OLYMPIA, Wash.—Washington voters passed Initiative 1634, which removes local control and eliminates the ability for local governments to pass sugary drink taxes to benefit their communities. The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network opposed this initiative.

In response to the election results, Mary McHale, Washington government relations director for ACS CAN, released the following statement:

"We are very disappointed in this outcome. Initiative 1634 was written and funded by the soda industry, which is why large soft drink corporations spent millions of dollars to mislead and confuse voters on the real intent of this measure – to protect their profits.

"The soda industry has blocked, or preempted, the authority of local governments in Washington to make their own public health decisions. This preemption strategy has been used by Big Tobacco for years to remove local control.

"Many important public health policies are passed and implemented at the local level. Local lawmakers are critical in passing and implementing policies such as sugary drink taxes that help prevent obesity and fight the related cancer risk. While states should set a minimum standard for public health protections, they should not prevent local governments from going above and beyond that minimum to benefit their communities.

"Given that nearly 18 percent of cancers are linked to weight, and sugary drink consumption is tied to excess weight, it’s critical to make sure communities can explore innovative options such as sugary drink taxes to help improve health and fight cancer. Unfortunately, Washington communities won’t have that choice now."

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is making cancer a top priority for public officials and candidates at the federal, state and local levels. ACS CAN empowers advocates across the country to make their voices heard and influence evidence-based public policy change as well as legislative and regulatory solutions that will reduce the cancer burden. As the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN is critical to the fight for a world without cancer. For more information, visit


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Media Contacts

Mary McHale
Washington Government Relations Director
Noe Baker
Senior Regional Media Advocacy Manager