Sugar is making headlines these days, taking the place of fats as the number-one villain in our diet. So it’s no surprise that public health advocates are suggesting that we cut way back on the amount of sugar in our diets.
That’s no easy task, since it seems to be in everything. Processed foods are a big source but, for now, advocates are taking aim at sugary drinks - and they hope to solve two problems with one tax.
On Monday, some state legislators joined the American Heart Association and other groups to advocate for a tax on beverages containing added sugar.
Their effort comes at an opportune time; that is, the new fiscal year is projected to have a $2.3 billion deficit, which could be lowered if a tax on sugary drinks could, as predicted, raise $145.2 million annually. The money raised would help pay for a program to help low- and moderate-income families pay for child care, and for public outreach about childhood obesity, heart disease and diabetes.
Connecticut wouldn’t be the first to add this tax as a revenue raiser. When Philadelphia passed its “soda” tax, it, too, was seen as a way to raise money. But a funny thing happened. According to CNBC, Philadelphia supermarkets have seen Coca-Cola sales volumes fall 30 percent to 50 percent. PepsiCo has seen a 40 percent drop in beverage sales and only a 10 percent to 15 percent bump in sales just outside the city, leading to cuts of 80 to 100 jobs out of 423 in the area.
The news is mixed then: the tax can serve as a reminder that these drinks are bad for us but they are probably not the budget solution many hope for - and it may cost jobs.