Consumer group criticizes proposed soda tax

Nonprofit cites recent study that soft drinks account for less than 7% of daily calories

Published  11:34 AM HST Feb 15, 2013
HONOLULU -

The nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom criticized on Friday the proposed legislation, SB 1085, which would place an additional tax of one cent per ounce on sugar-sweetened beverages.

The bill will next be considered by the Ways and Means Committee before going to the Senate floor.

According to the group, the proposal to tax sugar-sweetened beverages is absurdly misguided when it comes to promoting weight loss.  They say study after study has demonstrated that soda is not a unique contributor to obesity.

The group says a recent analysis by the National Cancer Institute found that soft drink intake actually accounts for less than seven percent of the average person’s daily calories.

"Taxes shouldn’t be a tool for social engineering or an instrument to penalize Hawaiians for doing nothing wrong," said J. Justin Wilson, Senior Research Analyst at the Center for Consumer Freedom.  "Residents of Hawaii 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 responsibility."

The author of a recent soda tax study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine determined that people would likely switch to untaxed beverages with the same amount of calories such as whole milk or fruit juice, leaving a soda tax as primarily a money-making exercise for the government.

"Sugar-sweetened beverages are no more fattening than any other food with calories," Wilson continued.  "It's only the overconsumption of calories, whether from soda or other foods and drinks, that leads people to put on extra pounds."

Some Senators say the consumption of sugary drinks contributes to obesity.  The bill cites a 2004 study that found sugared soft drinks are the single largest contributor of calorie intake in the U.S.

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