Today the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) opposed the position of a new study released by the California Center for Public Health Advocacy supporting a penny-per-ounce tax on soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages. The report suggests that Assemblyman Bill Monning’s (D-Carmel) legislation, AB 669, would generate significant new revenue for California. A hearing on the bill is scheduled for Monday, April 25, 2011.
“Taxes shouldn't be used as a tool for social engineering, or an instrument to punish Californians for their personal choices, yet that's exactly what the state legislature is trying to do with this ill-advised tax," said J. Justin Wilson, Senior Research Analyst at the Center for Consumer Freedom. "Overly simplistic solutions to obesity like taxing soda will only set us up for failure. Singling out soda, while largely ignoring myriad other causes of obesity, demonstrates lawmakers real motivation: money.”
A wealth of academic research demonstrates that taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages have no measurable effect on the waistlines of Americans. Lawmakers and health zealots have blamed Americans' obesity issues squarely on soda, but according to research by the National Institutes of Health, soft drink consumption accounts for less than six percent of an average person’s daily calorie intake. And the author of a recent study on soda tax effectiveness published in the Archives of Internal Medicine suggested that people would likely switch to untaxed beverages with the same quantity of calories such as whole milk or fruit juice if sugar-sweetened beverages were taxed.
With huge budget shortfalls this year, California lawmakers are looking for illogical ways to bridge both the state and county-level’s staggering debt. While the California Center for Public Health Advocacy report claims most of the revenue from Assemblyman Monning’s tax would fund health programs, it is far more likely the money will be used to offset other funds to finance day-to-day government operations.
According to Wilson, “Taxing soda has everything to do with reducing California’s budget deficit, and little to do with reducing anyone’s weight.”