Big Soda is running scared and spending big. Through their trade association, Coke, Pepsi and Dr Pepper, et al have now poured over $30 million into fighting taxes on sugary drinks just this year.
And that was before today’s big blow: The World Health Organization urged all countries to tax sugary drinks. “If governments tax products like sugary drinks, they can reduce suffering and save lives,” said Dr. Douglas Bettcher, who heads WHO’s department for preventing non-communicable diseases.
This comes on the heels of an embarrassing report that unmasked how Coca-Cola and PepsiCo sponsored at least 96 national health organizations at the same time the companies were lobbying against public health bills intended to reduce consumption of sugary drinks.
"Clearly,” the researchers wrote, “the soda companies are using sponsorship of medical and health organizations to promote their public image, mute the support of these organizations for policies like soda taxes that would decrease soda consumption, and in the long run, to increase soda consumption.”
No wonder Big Soda has poured another $5.2 million dollars into fighting taxes on sugary drinks since we wrote last week’s update “Running scared, Big Soda ramps up spending against soda taxes.” The American Beverage Association gave another $2 million on Oct. 5 and $3 million on Oct. 7 for the campaign to fight San Francisco’s sugary drink tax. It gave another $250,000 on Oct. 10 to fight Oakland’s sugary drink tax.
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has made the largest donations in support of the sugary drink campaigns in San Francisco and Oakland. He contributed $596,470 (SF) plus $588,670 (OAK) on Oct. 4 and $558,453 (SF) plus $501,546 (OAK) on Oct. 10 in addition to his prior contributions of nearly $3.7 million. (updated Oct. 12)
Big Soda has also spent over $500,000 (updated Oct. 12) against Boulder’s sugary drink tax effort. All that comes just months after Big Soda spent $10.6 million in an unsuccessful fight against Philadelphia’s tax on sweetened drinks.
Adding it all up, the soda giants have put in at least $30 million just this year and we still have 28 days to go until Election Day, when voters decide on sugary drink taxes in Boulder, San Francisco, Oakland and Albany, CA.
Here’s a picture of our current running tally. We’ll be keeping an eye out for more sugary drink tax spending between now and November 8th.