Vermonters do not support a tax on beverages. It has been a little over two months since the Vermont lawmakers introduced a tax on beverages and now more than 15,000 Vermonters have spoken out against the beverage tax.
This is no surprise to us. Vermonters are no different from the rest of the American public who simply do not want lawmakers taxing common grocery items. In fact, American voters have rejected efforts in more than 30 cities and states to implement a soda tax.
Despite what some lawmakers and public health advocates say, taxes don’t make people healthier – instead they hurt local businesses. Ray Bouffard, owner of Vermont’s family-owned Georgia Market, said in a news release from the Stop Vermont Beverage Tax Coalition that a tax on soda like the one proposed in Vermont at 2 cents per ounce would be detrimental to local businesses.
“This tax would place an incredible burden on my business—and we already operate on very small margins,” Bouffard said. “We pride ourselves on offering competitively priced goods so that customers can shop local when possible. We simply cannot afford this tax and our customers cannot afford it either.”
Bouffard is not alone. Jenny Rooke, owner of Rookie’s Root Beer in Burlington, also expressed concerns about how a tax will harm her family business.
“This is a scary time for our family,” she said. “We’ve worked so hard to build our small mom-and-pop business from the ground up and we worry that this tax would hit us hard. It’s so encouraging to see the thousands and thousands of Vermonters who are speaking out against the tax. I hope lawmakers will listen.”
The truth is, beverage taxes are just bad policy. Instead of harmful taxes that will have no real impact on public health, lawmakers should concentrate on more meaningful solutions to combat the challenging issue of obesity.
Our member companies believe that to get serious about reducing obesity, we need to move past public policy debates and onto real solutions such as our National School Beverage Guidelines that led to a 90 percent reduction in beverage calories in schools nationwide and our Clear on Calories initiative, which placed calorie labels on the front of every can, bottle and pack our members produce. And through our Balance Calories Initiative, we are once again working with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and have set a goal to reduce beverage calories per person by 20 percent by 2025.