Who Supports A Sugary Beverage Tax? Plenty Do!

Support for Tax on Sugared Beverages Grows From Physicians, Dentists, Nurses, Hospital Associations, Public Health Advocates

ALBANY, NY (Feb.18, 2010 – Support for a proposed tax on sugary beverages in New York State continues to gain momentum, as a growing number of associations representing physicians, dentists, nurses, hospitals, community health centers, and public health organizations are expressing support for the proposal.

And a new Quinnipiac poll released today finds that a majority of New York City voters favor the tax.

Sixty percent of adults and one-third of children in New York State are overweight or obese. Numerous studies have identified beverages containing large amounts of added sugar as the single strongest dietary link to obesity. Health care for obesity-related conditions cost New Yorkers nearly $8 billion dollars a year, with taxpayers paying the majority of that through Medicare and Medicaid.

"It's increasingly clear that we need to take decisive action to stop the epidemic of obesity in New York State," said State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D. "And a majority of New Yorkers support a tax on sugary beverages when they know the tax revenue will support health care and obesity prevention initiatives."

Governor David A. Paterson's proposed 2010-11 Executive Budget includes a penny-per-ounce excise tax on non-diet sodas and other drinks containing large amounts of added sugar, providing an economic incentive for children, adolescents and adults to reduce consumption of sugared beverages and choose healthier, lower-calorie alternatives such as water, low-fat milk, and diet soda. The tax is projected to decrease consumption of unhealthy sugared beverages by up to 15 percent. The $450 million in revenue from the tax this year ($1 billion over a full fiscal year) will be dedicated to preventing deeper cuts to health care programs at a time when the state must close an $8.2 billion deficit.

Nearly 60 organizations representing physicians, dentists, nurses, children's advocacy, and public health organizations have signed a statement of support for the tax. Additional organizations wishing to express their support may do so on the website of the New York Academy of Medicine at: http://www.nyam.org/initiatives/sp-sbb-contact.shtml

The following are among the many statements of support for the sugary beverage tax:

American Academy of Pediatrics, District II

"The Academy of Pediatrics strongly supports the imposition of a tax on sugary syrup in soda, fruit drinks and sports drinks as proposed in this budget... We, as the doctors, see the results of high sugar consumption in our patients across the state … We urge you to impose the sugared drink tax this year."

New York State Academy of Family Physicians

"As family physicians, we are deeply concerned about the increased prevalence and severity of childhood and adolescent obesity. The Academy strongly urges support for a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. We see the measure as a win-win for the state, helping to significantly reduce the alarming rates of obesity and overweight among our residents. Similar to the tax on cigarettes, the increased price on sugared beverages will influence food-purchasing behavior.

Greater New York Hospital Association (GYNHA)

"GNYHA strongly supports this tax, and our polling indicates that the public supports it as well. A poll conducted for the Healthcare Education Project, a joint project of GNYHA and 1199 SEIU, found that 58 percent of New Yorkers support the tax as a way to reduce childhood obesity. When asked to choose between this tax and Medicaid cuts, support was overwhelming.

"An analysis of 88 studies published in the American Journal of Public Health concluded that sugar-sweetened soft drink consumption was associated with increased caloric intake and body weight. Soft drink intake also appears to 'crowd out' healthier alternatives, as drinking soda has been associated with lower intakes of milk, calcium and other nutrients. Research has demonstrated that soft-drink consumption is one of the main drivers of childhood obesity."

Medical Society of the State of New York

"Obesity has a major deleterious impact on overall health. It causes diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, and osteoarthritis. Sugar-sweetened soft drink consumption is scientifically associated with increased body weight. It is estimated that a tax on sugary drinks will discourage purchase and, therefore reduce consumption, of sugared beverages by more than 10 percent."

New York State Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Alliance (NYSHEPA)

"This tax is unique in that it will have critical fiscal and health impacts. Not only will it reduce consumption of sugar sweetened drinks, which have been heavily linked to obesity and diabetes, it will also bring in much needed revenue that will help the state avoid additional spending cuts.

The sugar-sweetened beverage tax is a smart way to help improve the health of New Yorkers, particularly our most vulnerable population -- our children."

New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM)

"NYAM strongly supports this effort and encourages members of the New York State Legislature to pass this critical public health legislation. Sugar-sweetened beverages are among the contributors to the high rate of obesity and they hold no nutritional value. Particularly among children and adolescents, they often displace the intake of healthier beverages such as milk. The evidence indicates that pricing may have some impact on weight outcomes, particularly for children and adolescents, low-income populations, and those most at risk for overweight."

New York State Association of County Health Officials (NYSACHO)

"NYSACHO supports initiatives in the Executive Budget that will raise revenue by taxing sugar-sweetened beverages and increasing taxes on cigarettes. Research shows that consumption of these products leads to preventable illness that is costly in both human and financial terms. Studies indicate that taxing them will decrease consumption and raise revenue, meeting public health goals and fiscal needs."

New York State Public Health Association

"As the single largest contributor to weight gain, sugar sweetened beverages is an appropriate place to focus. We know that economic incentives are among the most effective tools to change behavior. Based on a review of the evidence, the sugar sweetened beverage tax will raise revenue, reduce consumption and improve our population's health."

New York State Coalition for School-Based Health Centers

"The Coalition strongly supports Governor Paterson's proposed excise tax for sugar-sweetened beverages because it will reduce the consumption of unhealthy drinks and help to prevent childhood obesity. The centers see first-hand the toll that obesity takes on the health of the children that we serve. Obesity leads to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer and other diseases. This tax is a critical step in improving the health of all New Yorkers."

New York State Nurses Association

"The Nurses Association supports the proposed $650 million in excise taxes on cigarettes and unhealthy beverages. These taxes will discourage the unhealthy habits that strain health spending and promote public health by encouraging New Yorkers to make healthier choices.

The added savings will be reflected in dollars, but more importantly, in lives."

Community Health Care Association of NYS (CHCANYS)

New York's community health centers' efforts to curtail childhood obesity and diabetes throughout the state go hand in hand with the Governor's initiative to tax sugar-sweetened beverages. It is our hope that the education efforts about this new surcharge will get the message out to parents about how they can help their children avoid diabetes as adults by eating healthier when they are young."

Citizens Committee for Children of New York Inc

"Raising $450 million ($1 billion when fully annualized) to reinvest in health programs by imposing an excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages … will help combat childhood obesity and associated illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease."

Medicaid Matters

"We support the taxes the Governor has proposed to raise revenue in the health area. Without them, deeper cuts would be necessary, and they serve a public benefit."

In addition to the proposed tax on sugared beverages, Governor Paterson's Obesity Prevention Agenda includes:

  • A program allowing participants in the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program to use their monthly food checks at farmers markets to purchase fresh produce.
  • A $10-million revolving loan fund to increase access to healthy foods through the creation of food markets in underserved communities.
  • Support for the development of the Community Coalitions for Obesity Prevention Program. The "Healthy Steps to Albany: First Lady's Challenge" that encourages school children to engage in daily fitness activities.
  • Proposed legislation that would require calorie posting on menus and menu boards of chain retail food establishments.
  • Proposed legislation that would ban the use of trans fats in ready-to-eat foods sold or served in chain restaurants and retail food service stores.
  • Proposed Healthy Schools Act that would ban the sale of high-fat, high-sugar junk foods in schools and improve nutritional intake at schools in other ways.