Objections to soda tax don't hold up

Published on Sunday, 16 April 2017 21:24
Written by

Connecticut Post (Bridgeport)

Lobbyists’ objections to a state soda tax contain as much rot as the teeth of too many kindergartners.

The drivers who haul the pop argue that the proposed penny-per-ounce levy would cause cavities in their job market. The Teamsters forecast a loss of some 150 truck-driving jobs. As exhibit A, they point to job loss that resulted from bans of sugary drinks in public schools. We suspect the kids somehow managed to consume alternate beverages that were delivered via tractor-trailers.

The Connecticut Retail Merchants Association claims that Connecticut’s more modest retailers would be unable to sustain themselves if 2-liter bottles cost an extra 68 cents. We have a hard time buying their sincerity when so many vendors currently charge as much for bottled water as they do for a belly’s worth of Coca-Cola.

The retailers and drivers might want to take a closer look at the fine print on the products they peddle. We have. Many of the soft drink giants also produce refreshments sans sugar.

There are other objections from non-lobbyists, including Republicans on the Finance, Revenue & Bonding Committee. They want an assurance that the new tax revenue would be placed in a dedicated fund so it is spent as intended on efforts to promote better health. The cautionary tale on this matter was delivered when the Big Tobacco settlement of two decades ago never managed to be dedicated to the cause of smoking cessation.

This isn’t quite the same thing as the state’s vexing inability to create a transportation fund vault. Regardless of how the income is spent, a soda tax would theoretically have an immediate effect on the health of residents, as fewer would purchase the product.

Connecticut stands to be a trailblazer as the first state with the controversial tax, which was recently introduced in cities such as Philadelphia, San Francisco and Albany. ...

The expectation is that a Connecticut tax could raise between $85 million and $141 million. While some of the income should be dedicated toward the cause of combatting obesity and diabetes, the money could also be earmarked for child services, public school education or enhancing pre-K opportunities.

First, though, lawmakers need to supersize their thinking.

Posted in New Britain Herald, Editorials on Sunday, 16 April 2017 21:24. Updated: Sunday, 16 April 2017 21:26.