If you have not been following the soda tax controversy lately, here’s a quick update. In the past year, Capitol Hill and even the President have said that taxing sugary soft drinks may be a good way to reduce consumption and create a $50B revenue stream for the federal government over the next decade.
The American Beverage Association spun into action in order to kill any such legislative ideas, using TV commercials, direct lobbying efforts, and through persuading additional organizations representing Hispanics to join the fight. Why Hispanics? Because the numbers show that they are more apt to consume soft drinks on one hand, but have less to spend on the other. The soft drink industry repeatedly stated it is “protecting working families”.
All told, the ABA spent $18 million. The efforts succeeded, and just a few weeks ago it seemed as if all the congressmen who supported the tax suddenly had a change of heart. In launching her new campaign against childhood obesity, the First Lady also steered clear of the soda tax issue. In return, Coca Cola and Pepsi pledged to prominently display beverage calorie counts on their products.
Now for the news. Not content with the federal response, California is considering a state tax on soda, according to the Los Angeles Times:
Legislators last week pledged to pass such a tax in light of new studies linking soft drink consumption to obesity in children and adults. One study suggests that obesity and related problems cost California alone $41 billion a year in medical expenses and reduced productivity.
…When California Senate Majority Leader Dean Florez (D-Shafter) introduced his soda tax bill, he said one penny of tax per teaspoon of added sugar in any sweetened beverage would generate as much as $1.5 billion each year. That money would pay for parks, recreation and school health programs, Florez said. “The Legislature is primed for this bill,” Florez said, adding that he expects bipartisan support. read more…
And in an interesting turn of events, one of the Hispanic organizations that initially aligned itself with Coke decided to break away, and 2 Californian chapters of other organizations split from the still-in-bed-with-Coke national organizations. Bravo!
Our take on this issue is a bit different. While we certainly applaud any and all actions meant to decrease sugar consumption on a massive scale, the tax should be levied directly on manufacturers. Read more about “calorie offsets” that will squeeze the cash from rich corporation instead of “working families”.
What to do at the supermarket:
Whether you’re a working family or not, the easiest way to save $500 a year is to quit soft drinks and switch to tap water (for a family of four). You’ll save not just 5 Benjamins, but also several pounds of body weight, along with a decrease in tooth decay, and a general contribution to a greener earth.
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