Tax those sugary sodas
The following editorial is excerpted from the 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.
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.
Lawmakers have found use for a soda tax before, to boost war chests during both World Wars. This effort could save lives as well, while improving countless other ones.
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.
The editorial board is composed of the publisher and four journalists of varied editing and reporting backgrounds. The board's discussions and information gained from its meetings with political, civic, and business leaders drive the institutional voice of The Day, as expressed in its editorials. The editorial department operates separately from the newsroom.
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