Statement of CSPI vice president for nutrition Margo G. Wootan
Big Soda’s campaign to preempt local soda taxes using ballot initiatives in Washington State and Oregon is much like its campaign to get people to drink soda in the first place: big, loud, expensive, and—most of all—misleading. The industry knows that communities are increasingly turning to soda taxes to address diabetes and obesity and raise revenue for community needs. That’s why it spent millions falsely reframing soda taxes as taxes on “groceries.” The soda industry knows that soda taxes work. People have been turning away from soda in droves since the late 1990s, and evidence from Berkeley and Philadelphia demonstrates that taxes drive consumption down even further.
Unlike real groceries, soda contributes nothing of redeeming value to the diet and promotes weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease. We will work to ensure that, in the years ahead, more local communities, state legislatures, and, eventually, Congress enact taxes on soda and other sugary drinks. Just as the tobacco industry delayed public health gains but lost in the end, the writing is on the wall for Big Soda. Regardless of how the votes come out today, it’s the long game that matters.