The Hawaii Department of Health recently began running ads bashing soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages in a misguided attempt to promote healthy lifestyles.  The ads are false and misleading, and suggest products which account for just 7 percent of the calories in the average American’s diet are driving obesity and diabetes.

This is an unfortunate and grotesque misuse of taxpayer dollars that were intended to create jobs and stimulate the economy. How are these ads creating jobs? If anything, this money is going to activities that will stymie job creation and cost people good-paying jobs.

It’s disturbing that officials in Hawaii are choosing to intrude into the lives of people by telling them what they can drink or do with regards to safe, refreshing, non-alcoholic beverages. To single out one type of product is unwarranted and unproductive.  The people of Hawaii and its visitors are more than capable of deciding what to buy without government help.

At a time when budget deficits are at all-time highs – and families are still struggling financially – we have federal and state agencies wasting taxpayer money on advertising.

The non-alcoholic beverage industry has stepped up to do its part in helping to address obesity, by voluntarily removing full-calorie soft drinks from schools, replacing them with more lower-calorie, smaller-portion options.  As a result of this initiative, calories from beverages in schools have been cut by 88 percent.  The beverage industry is placing calorie labels on the front of every bottle, can and pack. This initiative is putting calorie information at the fingertips of every consumer so they can make the choice that’s right for them and their families.