Push being made to tax sugary drinks - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Push being made to tax sugary drinks

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HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -

Advocates are pushing for a new tax on sugary drinks in Connecticut.

They predict it could raise nearly $150 million every year.

Monday, Democratic leaders of the General Assembly's Public Health Committee said they are joining forces with several other groups, including the American Heart Association, in Hartford to promote the proposal.

It's already aggressively being looked at by both the state House of Representatives and the Senate.

It involves taxing items like soda, lemonades, juices and energy drinks a penny per ounce.

Democrats and other advocates said the tax would not only promote positive health but also financially benefit the state.

The money raised would help pay for a program to help low and moderate income families pay for childcare. It would also help with public outreach concerning obesity, childhood obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

The push comes as the new fiscal year is projected to have more than $2 billion deficit.

"This particular revenue source which could be implemented immediately would ideally keep us from making some of those really hard choices and maintain programs we know really matter to people," said State Rep. Jonathan Steinberg.

A study from the University of Connecticut Rudd Center predicts it could raise more than $145 million every year.

Those against it say it could cost some people their jobs.

But advocates say it's not just about money, it's about people's health.

"It allows us to educate people on the benefits of moving away from sugary beverages towards water or other non-sugary beverage options,” Steinberg said.

Those in support of the tax say they have numbers to back up their claims.

In 2014, Berkeley, Ca. passed a $0.01 per ounce tax on sugary drinks.

As a result, UC Berkeley found that sugary drink consumption in low-income neighborhoods fell by 21 percent five months after the tax went into effect, while water consumption rose by 63 percent.

"We believe that every child regardless of who they are and where they live and what they look like deserves the opportunity to eat healthily,” said Sally Mancini, of the UConn Rudd Center.

A number of other states are considering a similar tax this year including Massachusetts, New York, Vermont and Maine.

Similar taxes have been adopted in other cities and towns across the country.

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