We here at Sip & Savor came across a letter to the editor from Robert Munch, owner of Vermont Sweetwater Bottling, on how his family business will be impacted by the recently introduced soda tax in Vermont.

“If this tax becomes a reality, this will be just another reason why small businesses in this state consider closing down or moving to New York or New Hampshire,” he wrote in the Rutland Herald.

Munch has been making beverages in Vermont for more than 20 years and he brings up a point often overlooked by soda tax supporters.  Small, local business are often forced to make drastic changes when their taxes go up.  They have to raise prices, cut jobs and even relocate to more business-friendly states.

And for what?  Supporters of beverage taxes say a beverage tax will reduce obesity rates.  But obesity is complex and can’t be boiled down to one specific product or ingredient.  Many health organizations, including the Mayo Clinic, identify multiple risk factors, including genetics, age, stress, and even lack of sleep.  As for diet, sugar-sweetened beverages account for only 6 percent of calories in the average American’s diet.

Soda taxes like the one proposed in Vermont at 2¢ per-ounce threaten beloved local businesses that have been part of communities for decades says Jenny Rooke, owner of Rookie’s Root Beer in Burlington, Vt.

“A tax like this could add $1,250 to the cost of a batch of root beer, which would – frankly – put us out of business,” says Rooke. Vermont Retail & Grocers Association President Jim Harrison says a tax puts local businesses at a disadvantage to businesses in neighboring states that don’t have a tax.

“Politicians should focus on what matters most – education, jobs and the economy – and leave the grocery shopping to us and our customers,” he says.

Small business owners aren’t alone in their opposition of these taxes.  A recent poll that asked people across the country if they support similar taxes showed that only 20 percent of the population said yes.  Americans want to be able to make their own decisions at the grocery store without the government being involved and they know that these taxes will not help make people healthy.

There are solutions to the challenge of obesity and the beverage industry helps support efforts that will have a lasting impact on our communities, ones that give people clear information to help balance their diets without higher grocery bills or government regulations.  Our industry’s Balance Calories Initiative launched last year will provide consumers with information and options to help them achieve balance and reduce beverage calories consumed per person nationally by 20 percent by 2025.

Have more questions about soda taxes?  Visit YourCartYourChoice.com.