It seems like soda tax propositions are popping up like mushrooms after spring showers across the country. And everywhere they do, the beverage industry is there, like a wild boar, ready to stomp them down.
Last week, Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter wanted to raise $77 million annually from a tax on sugary soft drinks. A local bottler and multimillionaire offered a bribe donation of $10M to help promote health and recreation programs in the next 2 years. City council shot down the tax regardless.
And now the Washington DC city council is proposing a 1 cent tax per fluid ounce. CalorieLab tells of the novel approach by the American Beverage Association:
the “grassroots” tactic adopted by the beverage industry: Recruiting local businesses to be the public face of their campaign. Expect to see this become a standard play by Big Soda wherever the soda tax rears its head. Ed & Betty’s Corner Grocery gets a lot more sympathy in the average household … [rather] than Pepsico, Inc.
In all likelihood, this proposed tax will not make it. Consumer sentiment is already against paying more for anything.
On the other hand, there is no doubt that sugary drinks are a top contributor to our nation’s obesity epidemic. The beverage industry has externalized all the health related costs in order to bring consumers a “cheap” drink.
(Cheap is relative though. Tap water is much cheaper than soda. And healthier too.)
So how to get the beverage industry to shoulder the responsibility? It’s a major challenge. We have suggested in the past the implementation of a calorie offset solution, but there could be other ways to reduce the financial incentive of manufacturing sugary drinks, and shifting efforts by industry towards other areas.
What to do at the supermarket:
Skip the beverage aisles. A family of 4 can save $500 a year by switching from soft drinks to tap water. And several pounds per person. Not to mention the number of plastic bottles not contaminating landfills.