Beverage Lobby Steps Up Anti-Soda Tax Activities, Yet Calls Tax Dead

State Health Commissioner Cites Misleading Advertising

ALBANY, N.Y. (April 2, 2010) – State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D., issued the following statement today:

"The beverage lobby has stepped up its activities to oppose a proposed tax on sugary beverages that research indicates will help protect New York's children against obesity – yet keeps saying the tax is dead. The radio and TV airwaves are seeing more advertising as the lobby plans more staged protest rallies. Clearly, the beverage lobby doesn't think the soda tax is dead."

"What I find most disturbing about the beverage lobby's stepped-up efforts is the extent they are willing to go to mislead New Yorkers. A new TV commercial paid for by the American Beverage Association falsely portrays a proposed tax on sodas and other sugary beverages as 'affecting your entire grocery bill.'"

"Let's be clear. The tax would only affect sodas and other beverages containing large amounts of added sugar, which have been linked to increasing rates of obesity and diabetes. The tax won't affect diet sodas or 100 percent juices.  And it won't affect water, milk or any of the nutritious foods you need to feed your family."

"In fact, you can purchase all the groceries you need for your family and never pay this tax. That's because, unlike eggs, milk, bread and other foods you put in your grocery cart, sugary beverages are not essential to a healthy diet."

"The overconsumption of these beverages endangers the health of your family by increasing the risk for overweight and diseases like diabetes, heart disease, asthma and arthritis that are associated with obesity. New York spends nearly $8 billion in health care for these conditions each year, a cost we all pay through taxes for Medicaid and Medicare."

"The tax will send a price signal to families to switch to lower-cost, healthier drinks like water, low-fat milk and diet soda."

"Don't be misled by beverage lobby ads trying to scare you about your grocery bills. Public health and health care leaders across the state agree that a penny-per-ounce tax on sugary beverages will improve the health of New Yorkers and reduce health care costs. It will also provide revenue for our critical health care services and anti-obesity efforts."