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Letter to the editor

Taxing soda won’t work

October 22, 2009

This letter is in response to your recent column on beverage taxes (“Sales tax should apply to soda pop, unhealthy items,” Oct. 15). A tax on soda won’t work. A tax won’t make people healthier. There is strong scientific and real world evidence to show this. A study by Harvard researchers and published in the New England Journal of Medicine earlier this year concluded that all calories count­—regardless of the food source—when it comes to losing weight. This is just the latest study in the compendium of science that shows balancing calories consumed from all sources with calories burned through exercise is the key equation to weight maintenance.

Further, people don’t want government using the tax code to tell them what to eat or drink. Look at Maine. Last year, the government imposed a tax on beverages to pay for the state health care program.

In a November ballot initiative, Maine voters rejected the tax by a two-to-one margin. And earlier this year in New York, the governor proposed a major tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. New Yorkers revolted so strongly, the governor publicly scrapped the idea just months later. There is no doubt that obesity is a serious and complex problem; but it requires thoughtful and comprehensive solutions. We can’t tax our way to better health – and we’re not going to solve the complexities of the health care system with a tax on sodas.

Tracey Halliday, vice president
American Beverage Association