Your recent article “Soda-policy attitudes affected by perceptions of the industry, political leanings, U study finds” warrants clarification for your readers on the so-called soda tax.
Taxes don’t make people healthy. If we want to get serious about obesity, it starts with education – not laws and regulation. Politicians should focus on what matters most – education, jobs and the economy – and leave the grocery shopping to us. What you eat, drink and feed your family is your choice and not the government’s. People don’t support taxes and bans on common grocery items, like soft drinks. That’s why the public policy debate has moved on from taxes and bans and onto real solutions.
Through thoughtful and meaningful initiatives we can collectively provide consumers with more information and choice. And the non-alcoholic beverage industry is doing just this. Your article suggests that the researchers’ survey found broad support requiring large and prominently placed calorie labels. Our industry already began placing clear calorie labels on the front of every can, bottle and pack we produce back in 2010. Consumers now have calorie information at their fingertips.
The researchers’ survey also suggested support to prohibit schools from selling sugar-sweetened beverages on school property. In partnership with former President Bill Clinton and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, our industry already cut calories available from beverages in schools by 90 percent. We have voluntary removed full-calorie soft drinks from school nationwide and replaced them with smaller-portion, milk, water and 100 percent juice options.
Our industry is committed to playing a role in addressing obesity, as evidenced by these voluntary initiatives that are already in place and working.
Regressive taxes, however, have no place in a real solution.
Tim Wilkin is president of the Minnesota Beverage Association.
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