ABA Readies for New Battles With Soda Tax

A new poll by the American Beverage Association signals that, after successfully beating back a congressional proposal for taxes on soda last year, the group is gearing up for a new round of battles. Just this past February, the Senate Finance Committee listened to proposals on how to pay for the then-proposed universal health care plan. Among the proposals: a three-cent tax on sodas as well as other sugary drinks, including energy and sports drinks like Gatorade.

With two-thirds of Americans either overweight or obese, policymakers are increasingly looking at taxing as a way to address obesity on a population level. Reuters reported last month that U.S. researchers estimate that an 18 percent tax on pizza and soda can push down U.S. adults’ calorie intake enough to lower their average weight by five pounds (two kilograms) per year. The researchers, writing in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine, suggested taxing could be used as a weapon in the fight against obesity, which costs the United States an estimated $147 billion a year in health costs.

CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden supports taxes on soft drinks, as does the American Heart Association. Now, the $110 billion beverage industry is now facing not one federal initiative but more than a dozen state and local plans. Places like Kansas, Colorado, California, Philadelphia and New York City want to use a soda tax — one penny per ounce is the levy most often cited — to help reduce obesity and raise much-needed funds. The ABA’s latest survey, conducted by Rasmussen Reports, shows that 56 percent of Americans oppose a tax on soft drinks.
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