Taxing Soft Drinks to Pay for Their Cost to Society

Thursday, May 20, 2010

In need of new revenue sources to pay for education and healthy eating programs for children, local and state politicians are setting their sights on taxing soft drinks.

In Washington, DC, local politicians are considering a plan to impose a 1 cent per fluid ounce tax on soft drinks, which is expected to increase the cost of a 12-pack by about $1.44. Proponents say the tax will generate $16 million annually, some of which would fund new school programs advocating healthy eating habits and providing healthier breakfast and lunch options. A key argument revolves around reducing the obesity problem among children and teenagers.
The soda industry, led by Coca-Cola and Pepsi, are lobbying hard to kill the proposal. They claim the tax will hurt “hard-working, low- and middle-income families, elderly residents and those living on fixed incomes” and cause businesses to cut jobs.
Writing in The New York Times, David Leonhardt points out that one of the reasons low-income Americans have been turning more and more to unhealthy soda drinks is the cost. Whereas, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average cost of fresh fruits and vegetables has increased by more than 30% in the last thirty years, the inflation-adjusted price of soft drinks has gone down by 34%.
In addition to battling the DC plan, soft drink lobbyists are fighting another battle in Rhode Island, where the state legislature is considering a bill that would levy a 5-cent tax on soft drinks, and 10 cents on each drink larger than 20 ounces.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
The Battle Over Taxing Soda (by David Leonhardt, New York Times)
Soda Tax Would Boost Public Health (by Lynda Laughlin, Greater Greater Washington)
Assembly Takes Testimony on Proposed Sugary Drink Tax (by Neil Downing, Providence Journal)
Soft Drink Tax Battle Shifts to States (by Kim Geiger and Tom Hamburger, Los Angeles Times)


Mike Licht 12 years ago
In Washington DC, soda tax proponents were defeated by their own tactic: sugar pushers stopped the bill "for the sake of the children." See:

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