Like those in Maine, California and Washington before them, voters in Telluride, Colo., yesterday defeated a ballot measure to tax soft drinks.
The ballot measure would have affected hundreds of beverages and added a significant cost to small businesses without making a dent in obesity rates. But common-sense prevailed as the people of Telluride saw through the rhetoric of critics who came into town to push their own agenda.
This is just the latest installment in a long history of failed proposals to tax soft drinks and other beverages. When voters have been given the chance to decide on a beverage tax, they have all been defeated by 60 percent or more. In 2008, voters in Maine overturned a beverage tax by 64 percent. Two years later in Washington, voters rejected a soda tax by 60 percent. And two times last year, in the California cities of Richmond and El Monte, soda taxes were rejected by 67 percent and 77 percent, respectively.
People don’t support taxes on common grocery items, like soft drinks. That’s why the public policy debate has moved on from taxes and bans and onto real solutions. With this tax proposal behind us, we look forward to working with leaders in communities across the country on solutions to obesity that will have a meaningful impact.