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North Country News
Thu January 31, 2013
Advocates Press for Sugared Beverage Tax
A coalition of groups is again calling on Vermont’s leaders to impose a tax on sugar sweetened beverages to combat obesity.
The Alliance for a Healthier Vermont is once again proposing that the state impose a one cent per ounce tax on sugar sweetened beverages. The Alliance has failed to get such a measure through the Legislature in past sessions. American Heart Association Vermont Government Relations Director Tina Zuk says formal legislation will be introduced next week.
The Alliance for a Healthier Vermont cites data indicating that sugared sodas are the largest contributor to caloric intake by individuals in the U.S. and may be the largest driver of obesity. Alliance Co-Founder Peter Sterling.
The proposed legislation would use revenues from the tax to fund health and nutrition programs, according to the Heart Association’s Tina Zuk.
Zuk notes that a study from the University of Vermont’s Center for Rural Studies found there would be no adverse retail effect. Consumers were likely to buy an alternative non-sweetened drink and would not frequent out of state merchants.
But retailers are concerned. Vermont Grocers’ Association President Jim Harrison notes that no state has implemented a sugar sweetened beverage tax, and if Vermont did so, it would be an experiment that could be detrimental.
Over 58 percent of Vermont adults, and 27 percent of children, are overweight or obese.