California Lawmakers Look At Sugar Tax on Certain Beverages

California State lawmakers appear to have a goal to curb sugar consumption throughout the Golden States with new sugary beverage legislation.  The set of bills, headed up by five state lawmakers, include new measures that would require manufacturers of these products to provide health warnings on labels for sugary soft drinks, as well as proposals that would ban the sale of such drinks at checkout areas of some stores.  Another proposal alludes to prohibiting the sale of unsealed fountain drinks in cups that are larger than 16-ounces.  

For one, assemblyman Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) proposed a new tax on sugary drinks. This tax would be applied to not only sodas but also sweetened iced teas and sports drinks as well as some coffee beverages. Details of how this would work, as well as what the rate would be, are not yet available, but Bloom has supported previous proposals for a $0.2 per-ounce tax in California, something similar to the sugar tax you might find in Washington State. 

More importantly, though, Bloom confides that the plan for this sugar tax would be to generate additional state revenue, which could help to offset health care costs in the state.  And he may be on the right track:  both the California Medical Association and the California Dental Association have shared support for the bill.

In a statement, Bloom referred specifically to wanting to help the growing number of Californians suffering from diabetic conditions.  “We have ignored this crisis for too long,” he contends. “We are standing on the edge of a cliff and addressing this health crisis requires a multi-pronged approach like the one you see today.”

San Francisco’s David Chiu agrees.  He says, “The soda industry is the new tobacco industry. This is an industry that has used marketing and sales tactics to victimize low income communities, communities of color throughout our country.”

Of course, this is very important to agencies like the American Diabetes Association who reported more than 13 percent of California adults have diabetes (in 2017).  That is about 4 million people; and another 10 million, at least, have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes.  In addition, about 1 in 4 California adults are obese; and the average American drinks approximately 50 gallons of sugary beverages in a single year. That equates to the consumption of about 39 pounds of extra sugar.