Have Coke and Pepsi Gone Too Far?

The Lempert Report
January 08, 2019

According to a report in the NY Times, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are spending millions of dollars on commercials that push people to vote to prohibit local governments from adding “soda taxes.”

According to the report, voters in Washington and Oregon have been inundated with advertisements from groups like Yes! To Affordable Groceries, which have already spent more than $25 million on the campaign.  

Health advocates say the tax on sugar-loaded beverages will reduce consumption of them. They point to the fact that nearly 40 percent of Americans are obese, according to the Center for Disease Control.  

In an interview with CNBC, William M. Dermody Jr, a vice president with the American Beverage Association insisted the effort to reject food and beverage taxes was largely a grassroots effort being driven by a broad local coalition of citizens. While big companies like Coke and Pepsi were involved in beating back levies on food and drink, he insisted those efforts were not solely about sugary drinks.

“The beverage industry is standing with small business and consumers locally who want to keep their groceries affordable,” Dermody said on Sunday – even as he acknowledged the industry had funneled “significant” resources into local efforts to push back on the levies.

“What this is about is people wanting to protect their groceries from excessive taxes,” Dermody said. These are democratic [constituencies] and people are saying ‘enough’ to higher taxes” – reminds me of fake news.

Here is the truth - More than 30 countries already tax sugary beverages.  A public health study found soda taxes in Berkeley, Calif. resulted in a more than 20 percent drop in soda consumption.