California eyes penny-per-ounce tax on sodas and energy drinks to combat child obesity

26.04.2013 05:16

new bill in California would tax
sugary drinks like soda one
penny per ounce.
In California, big gulps could soon
be taxed in a big way.
A bill that would tax sweetened
beverages like soda and energy
drinks a penny per ounce cleared a
hurdle Wednesday in the California
Legislature. The state Senate
Governance and Finance Committee
passed SB-622 by a 5-2 vote,
sending the controversial measure
on for review by the Senate Health
“This is the first time this state
committee has passed a bill that
would place a tax on sugary drinks
and the first step toward stemming
the epidemic of childhood obesity,”
the bill’s lead sponsor, Democratic
Sen. Bill Monning said in a news
The bill exempts drinks that
contain fewer than 25 calories, and
the funds raised by the excise tax
would go to the state’s newly
created Children’s Health
Promotion Fund, as well as
programs that combat childhood
“By taxing these products we will
be able to implement programs
that will assist in preventing disease
among children and begin to
address a public health crisis
whose rising health costs affect all
Californians,” Monning said.
Sen. Bill Monning (D-Monterey)
says the tax on soda is "a first
step toward stemming the
epidemic of childhood obesity."
Not surprisingly, the idea of taxing
sweetened drinks does not sit well
with the soda industry, which spent
millions to defeat ballot measures
in two California towns —
Richmond and El Monte — that had
proposed similar sweetened drink
The Center for Consumer Freedom,
an industry-backed group,
vehemently opposes the tax-by-
the-ounce idea.
“Taxes shouldn’t be a tool for
social engineering or an instrument
to penalize Californians for doing
nothing wrong,” J. Justin Wilson, a
senior research analyst at the
center, told the Los Angeles Times.
”Residents of California don’t need
a Ph.D. in nutrition to tell them
that eating or drinking too much of
anything is unhealthy. It only takes
a little common sense and personal
Despite the recent defeats at the
ballot box, a Field Poll released in
February found that 68 percent of
Californians said they supported
the penny-per-ounce soda tax as
long as the proceeds were set aside
for improved school nutrition and
physical activity programs.
According to the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention, 24
percent of California adults, and 17
percent of the state’s children, are
either overweight or obese.