You might have read recently about the misleading, political-style attack ads being run by the city of Portland, Maine, which bash sugar-sweetened beverages.  What you might not know is that you paid for these false and misleading ads that wrongly suggest products which account for just 7 percent of the calories in the average American’s diet are driving obesity and diabetes.

That’s right; Portland is using some of the $1.8 million in federal stimulus grant money – taxpayer dollars intended to create or save jobs – it received to run ads attacking the beverage industry.  At a time when unemployment is high and families are still struggling in the economy, this city government is wasting taxpayer money that was intended to promote economic growth by telling people what to eat and drink and potentially damaging an industry that provides thousands of jobs in Maine.  This is a remarkable statement of misplaced priorities.  Mainers can decide what groceries to buy for their families without government help.

This campaign portrays the consumption of beverages in the most over-the-top, outrageous manner.  It in no way reflects how people drink soda or any other beverages.  These ads are an unfortunate and grotesque misuse of taxpayer dollars intended to stimulate the economy.

Funding scare campaigns that target one industry does not create jobs.  In fact, it could actually cost people jobs and impede economic growth. Why is the city of Portland using these grants to run ads assaulting American companies, instead of using the money to create jobs and effectively address obesity?

In fact, these federal funds could have gone to local communities to stimulate job growth and promote healthy lifestyles simultaneously by maintaining the operation of public parks, bike trails, pools, physical education and after-school programs.  Efforts such as these would not only achieve an admirable public health goal, but also accomplish the original intent of the stimulus package - to add jobs to a lagging economy.