A Sugar Tax For America?

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Earlier this month, lawmakers in San Francisco approved the city’s sugary-beverage tax proposal for the ballot in this November’s coming elections.

The bill will likely be very well received by the public and do some good for the health of the state, according to Katy Steinmetz at Time:

A Field Research poll released in February found that 67% of California voters would approve such a tax if the revenue is earmarked for healthy initiatives . . .  An analysis from a city economist estimated that the tax would curb soda intake in the city by 31%. Under the measure, a bottle of soda that sells for $1.60 now would cost $2.”

Berkeley will vote on a similar initiative (still under a lot of contention) in November and Vermont is making some strong headway on a beverage tax of their own. The Green Mountain State has been working on this one for about two years, and has recently received a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to help push it through. Their initial bill, proposed two years ago, was quickly squelched by a $500,000+ ad campaign by the beverage industry.

Opponents of these bills complain that it will unduly hurt low-income consumers (one of the main sugary drink consumer demographic) and potentially send business across state borders. With a potential solution to these problems, House Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), brought a bill to the floor this Wednesday that would levy a soda tax nationwide. Referred to as the SWEET Act, the bill would charge manufacturers and importers one cent per ounce of sugary soda, the proceeds of which would go to the Prevention and Public Health Fund. Mark Bittman, NY Times writer, explains the bill and comments on it this week. Quoting Delauro, he points out the importance of this initiative and the commitment that we hope to see more lawmakers take:

I’m not a Pollyanna,” DeLauro said to me earlier this week, and she thinks it’s time: “I’ve been looking at this issue for a while, and I wanted to get it right. We are in the midst of a dual epidemic of obesity and [Type 2] diabetes, we need to do something about it, and we can’t rely on industry to deal with this voluntarily.”

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