Industry Gets Ready for Soda Tax Debate

Last Updated Sep 22, 2009 11:47 AM EDT

There's been a lot of buzz lately about a possible soda tax. A report in the New England Journal of Medicine came out in favor of a one cent tax on every ounce of sugary drink. Thirty-three states already have taxes on sweetened soft drinks, and previous studies have found that the effect on obesity is negligible, but the new study says it's because the taxes aren't high enough.

The New York Times recently ran a piece favoring soda taxes, and President Barack Obama said in an interview with Men's Health that it was "an idea that we should be exploring."

"There's no doubt that our kids drink way too much soda. And every study that's been done about obesity shows that there is as high a correlation between increased soda consumption and obesity as just about anything else. Obviously it's not the only factor, but it is a major factor."
A few enthusiasts have concluded that soda taxes must be just around the corner. But despite Obama's interview, a White House spokesman said the president will not be pushing for a soda tax, and there's not much support in Congress either.

If that changes, however, the soft drink industry is ready. A group called Americans Against Food Taxes started up back in June -- "Americans" referring primarily to soft drink companies -- and Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent more or less stated that soda taxes are communist. "I have never seen it work where a government tells people what to eat and what to drink," he told Bloomberg News. "It if worked, the Soviet Union would still be around."

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  • Katherine Glover