Health advocates want tax on sugary drinks | Local News – The Salem News

Health advocates want tax on sugary drinks | Local News – The Salem News

Healthy food
BOSTON — Health advocates are pushing for a new tax on sugary drinks as a way to reduce consumption of liquid calories that get blamed for medical problems such as obesity and diabetes. On Beacon Hill, a proposal backed by about three-dozen lawmakers would impose an excise tax on sugary drinks, with the levy increasing along with the sugar content. Proponents say too many children and families suffer from chronic diseases, including Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer and tooth decay, that they blame, in part, on diets laden with sugar. "We want to encourage people to make healthier choices, " said Sen. Joan Lovely, D-Salem, one of the bill's sponsors. "If people want to continue to drink these kinds of beverages, that's fine, but we're going to put a tax on it so that when you get sick from it at some point in your life, we'll be able to take care of you." Under the measure, sodas, teas and other beverages with 7.5 grams of sugar or less per 12 fluid ounces would not be taxed. Those with 30 grams of sugar or more per 12 fluid ounces would be taxed at a ....


Popular soft drinks such as Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Dr. Pepper are well above the 30-gram threshold. Money from the new tax would go into a fund used to enforce the new rules and to fund various children's health and nutrition programs. Tax opponents say it's unnecessary and will hurt stores, supermarkets and beverage producers, costing jobs while inflicting financial harm on consumers. "We believe there's a better way to get people to address obesity than with a soda tax, " said Steven Boksanski, executive director of the Massachusetts Beverage Association. "It really comes down to education about nutrition and physical activity." 'Lots of choices' Bokanski said the industry has been responding to consumer concerns about sugar-loaded drinks by offering healthier alternatives. "There's more low-calorie or no-calorie products on the shelves than at anytime before, " he said. "Part of it is market forces, part of it is a recognition that it's the right thing to do." Tax proponents have filed similar proposals in the recent past, but lawmakers didn't take up the bills. A Harvard School of Public Health study estimated a sugar tax could raise $368 million annually for the state. Four states — Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and, ....

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