Breaking: Boulder will pursue a sugary drinks tax

Public health advocates in Boulder today filed a ballot measure for 2016 that will raise revenue from a soda tax to promote access to healthy foods and exercise for families and children in the city.

Today’s action starts a city review of the proposed ballot language that can take up to 15 days, campaign organizers said. Once the language is certified, a coalition now coming together as Healthy Boulder Kids will have until June 28 to collect and submit the signatures required to qualify for the November ballot.

Public health advocates in Boulder today filed a ballot measure for 2016 that will raise revenue from a soda tax to promote access to healthy foods and exercise for families and children in the city.

Today’s action starts a city review of the proposed ballot language that can take up to 15 days, campaign organizers said. Once the language is certified, a coalition now coming together as Healthy Boulder Kids will have until June 28 to collect and submit the signatures required to qualify for the November ballot.

The campaign website says the funds will go to “improve access to healthy foods, nutrition education, and physical activity. The programs would especially focus on low-income residents and those most at risk for chronic disease related to sugary drink consumption. A committee of health experts will be established to direct city council on how to specifically direct these funds within the guidelines described in the measure.”

“We know that obesity and diabetes are serious threats to our kids’ health, and sugary drinks are a leading contributor to both,” said Eric Harker, a primary care and preventive medicine physician in Boulder, in a campaign release.

Organizer are gearing up for what could be a challenging campaign. “We expect the soda industry will soon swoop in with stacks of money, slick advertising and dubious claims and threats,” Jorge De Santiago, Executive Director of El Centro AMISTAD in Boulder. 

Under Boulder’s initiative, beverage distributors would pay a tax of 2 cents on each ounce of sugary drinks that contain at least 5 grams of sugar, high-fructose corn syrup or other added sweeteners per 12 fluid ounces. The tax will apply to soda, sweetened juice drinks, bottled coffees and teas with added sugars and energy drinks. In would not apply to 100 percent fruit and vegetable juices without added sweeteners, milk products, liquid medicines like cough syrup, alcohol and baby formula.


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