The Tax On Soda Is Working, So Here Comes The Fight

The Lempert Report
June 04, 2018

A state bill banning localities from taxing food and beverages came out of nowhere in Michigan

According to PR Watch, the bill was signed into law by Governor Rick Snyder within weeks. The Governor Doug Ducey in Arizona signed a similarly fast tracked bill.  

In Washington State, the soda industry is going a step further. After watching Seattle’s soda tax take effect last month, industry started a state-wide ballot initiative campaign that would prevent other cities in the state from implementing a similar tax. These are clear instances of corporate special interests convincing legislators to block local laws that would hurt their profitability. 

The public health community – pediatricians, dentists, the American Heart Association and more – are energized to take action as never before on soda and other sugary drinks because new data is showing that consuming sugar in liquid form increases risks of serious health conditions, such as heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and obesity in a much more significant way than was previously known. More than three-quarters of American adults are considered overweight or obese, and 30 percent of children. Those cities with a soda tax, like Philadelphia and Berkely California have shown remarkable changes in consumption and will certainly lead to a healthier population.

One study found that consuming just one to two sugary drinks a day increases your risk of developing diabetes a whopping 26 percent. Another study showed that men averaging one can a day of a sugary drink had a 20 percent increased risk of heart attack.  

Lets put our health aside. Or so wants the American Beverage Association as they embark on a campaign to fight these soda taxes. The ABA is putting their spin on it and wants to spin it as a “grocery tax” that harms everyone not just those who drink soda. One example, in Chicago, a professional-looking African American woman tells the camera “we’re being taxed out of Cook County, I’m a single mom. I can’t afford this tax.”   

The soda industry spent $48.9 million on recent soda tax opposition campaigns in Cook County, IL; Philadelphia, PA; Boulder, CO; San Francisco, CA; Oakland, CA; Seattle, WA, Santa Fe, NM; and Albany, California, according to a November 2017 report by the watchdog group Center for Science in the Public Interest.  

Their new campaign is called, Yes! To Affordable Groceries; and while soda has been an important profit center for supermarkets in years past, the time has come for retailers to stand up and protect the health and wellbeing of their shoppers and understand that by not supporting these types of programs it sends a signal to the companies to provide healthier offerings and to shoppers that you really care about them.