Going mainstream: Soda taxes hit the presidential campaign trail

Last year, some dismissed the idea of taxing the beverages with added sugar just like we tax tobacco as “fringe”. But in 2016 the idea has hit the mainstream in a big way, both in the U.S. and abroad.

The latest milestone came Wednesday, when Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, campaigning in Philadelphia, said she supported the mayor’s plan to fund universal preschool with a tax on sugary drinks – especially given the goals for the revenue.  “I'm very supportive of the mayor's proposal to tax soda to get universal pre-school for kids," Clinton said. "I mean, we need universal pre-school. And if that's a way to do it, that's how we should do it."

Berkeley, CA became the first U.S. jurisdiction to adopt a tax on soda distributors and it raised $1.5 million in its first year. With revenue funding healthy eating programs in schools, public health operations and community grants, Berkeley’s success has led other cities to follow suit. In addition to Philadelphia, sugary drink taxes have been proposed this year in San Francisco and Oakland, and in the Marianas Islands.  And now, today, Boulder Abroad, the United Kingdom is planning to join Mexico, France and others in taxing drinks with added sugars.

 “The idea of taxing sugary drinks to improve health and fund important priorities is gaining momentum across the US and around the world,” said Jim Krieger, executive director of Healthy Food America. “It give us the chance to reduce consumption of sugary drinks, increase public awareness of their health effects, and raise revenue to support healthy people and communities.”


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