On January 19, Governor Paterson called for a sugar-sweetened-beverage tax that would help resolve New York’s budget shortfall and fight obesity throughout the state. That crucial proposal has not yet been included in the Senate or Assembly versions of New York’s budget bill, and lawmakers will soon return from their legislative break to vote on the measure. When they return, they’ll still face the dilemma of making sharp reductions in health care and education spending or raising revenue. The case for including a soft-drink tax in the budget is as strong as ever,and legislators need to hear from you right away with that message. Taxing sugar-sweetened beverages would provide a triple win: better health, more funds for health care, and less need for treatment.
While many factors promote weight gain, the science is clear—soft drinks are a major contributor to overweight and obesity, which often cripple self-esteem and increase the risk of diabetes, stroke, and many other health problems.
Carbonated and non-carbonated soft drinks are the single biggest source of calories in the American diet, providing about 10-15 percent of calories consumed by children and adolescents. A 20-ounce bottle of soda, which has become the standard size, contains 17 teaspoons of sugar!
Half of America’s states, including New York (through its sales tax), tax sugared beverages. Their experiences show that even modest taxes can generate millions of dollars to offset swelling health-care costs related to obesity or help pay for Medicaid. In New York, approximately 25 percent of adults are obese and 35 percent are overweight. Levying an excise tax, in addition to the current little-noticed sales tax on sodas and sports drinks, would cut thousands of empty calories from diets and promote better health in New York. A one-cent-per-ounce excise tax in New York would reduce soft-drink consumption by more than 10 percent.
Click here to contact your senator and representative today and urge them to include a sugar-sweetened-beverage tax in this year’s budget.
Deputy Director, Health Promotion Policy
Center for Science in the Public Interest