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Editorials

The soda tax: A sour aftertaste

| Friday, Oct. 21, 2016, 8:30 p.m.

The cost of sugary drinks is on the ballot in some California and Colorado cities as the nanny state attempts to extend its reach. But past experience more than suggests the initiatives, if successful, will leave voters with a sour taste.

The intent of soda taxes is to reduce rates of obesity and diabetes. The consequences, as studies show, are a reduction in jobs more than calories and, at best, questionable health benefits.

Trouble is, government interventions like soda taxes typically gain momentum, from state to state, while the consequences are shoved aside.

A university study of Mexico's one-peso-per-liter tax on soda found that the levy cost about 10,000 jobs, prompted cross-border shopping and posed an enforcement nightmare, according to Geoff Parker, CEO of the Australian Beverages Council. Meanwhile the tax reduced consumption by only 3 percent.

Elsewhere, researchers from Ohio State and Cornell universities found that calories were not significantly reduced by a soda tax as households bought more beer.

And Philadelphia's not-so-sweet sweetened beverage tax of 1.5 cents per ounce has prompted a lawsuit. City lawyers call the levy a “political choice of necessity.”

And what exactly is the “necessity” of driving soda shoppers elsewhere unless — heaven forbid — a soda tax becomes uniform across the country?

Government has far more pressing matters than pinching consumers for their beverage choices.

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