I’ve made my thoughts on soda taxes clear before. While I understand the health problems linked to drinking too many sweetened beverages – soda, sports drinks, iced tea or fruit-like juices – I don’t think charging a few pennies more for sweetened beverages will stop most people from buying them. If we’re going to get people to consume less sugar in their drinks, we’ll probably have to find another solution — not that I know what that solution is.
Maybe I’m wrong. There are plenty of people who disagree with me, including MNN’s lifestyle blogger Starre Vartan, Former New York City Mayor Bloomberg, and now Democratic Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut.
I read on the Food Politics blog this morning that DeLauro has introduced the SWEET Act, formally named the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Tax Act of 2014. While I’m still skeptical that a tax on sweetened beverages will curb the consumption of them, this act isn’t just aimed at cutting consumption. A summary of the bill shows it’s specifically set up to use the revenue from the taxes for “critical funding for further research prevention, and treatment obesity, diabetes, dental caries and other diseases related to consumption of sweetened beverages.”
The funding could go for things like subsidizing fresh fruits and vegetables in schools, farm-to-school programs, social marketing campaigns that educate about sweetened beverages, and obesity and diabetes prevention programs.
Could a tax like this get beverage manufacturers to use less caloric sweeteners in their drinks? That seems to be one of the hopes — that they’ll reformulate their beverages so the tax will decrease.
An act that gets introduced into Congress has a long way to go before it ever becomes a law — if it ever does. But, it’s good to be informed that this act, which would add a one-cent tax per caloric teaspoon of sugar in beverages, has been introduced. If the act does move forward and you want to know how your representatives are voting on it, Food Policy Action is a website that keeps a scorecard on how those in Congress and the Senate vote on food issues.
Related on MNN:
- Fight obesity with economics, not useless health campaigns, say experts
- Sugar should be regulated as a toxin, researchers say
- Clever coke caps transform spent soda bottles into squirt bottles and shampoo dispensers