For the first time in years, lawmakers in California are not proposing a state-wide tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. Is it possible that they finally listened to their constituents?
We at Sip & Savor have argued that the reason more than 30 proposed taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages have failed nationwide is because they are wildly unpopular with the general public. Even San Francisco, a wealthy city that has backed other kinds of tax increases, saw a soda tax as going too far. Last year the city was unable to get the minimum votes needed to pass a 2-cents-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.
Anti-soda activists are singling out one product out of thousands of products with calories by claiming that sugar-sweetened beverages uniquely cause obesity and disease. It’s not accurate and the public clearly realizes it. The public is sending the message that they know taxes won’t make people healthy and the negative impact they have on local businesses is not worth it.
The same public health activists and politicians who tried to tax beverages are attempting to put warning labels on soft drinks that misleadingly suggest the beverages are a unique driver of obesity and diabetes. The science doesn’t support their claim. Like any source of calories, sugar-sweetened beverages can be part of a balanced diet when consumed in moderation and combined with physical activity. Demonizing any one food, beverage or ingredient isn't the solution to complex public health challenges.
If we want to get serious about addressing the challenge of obesity we need to work together towards holistic solutions that educate people about the need to balance diet and exercise. Our industry is doing its part to bring consumers the options and information they need to achieve a balanced lifestyle. We encourage lawmakers to do the same.