Sugarcoating taxes


Re “The soda-tax solution,” Opinion, Oct. 6, and “Weighing a soda tax,” Editorial, Sept. 26

I understand the need to combat obesity as well as the need to increase revenues for government. I don’t understand why the two are being used to combat each other.

I’d much rather a tax be implemented based on the fact that billions of dollars are spent on any given product than be told that the government thinks I’m fat and is now going to charge me extra for soda.


Lindsey Alverson

Agoura Hills


The Op-Ed article may be misleading to consumers. Singling out certain foods or beverages for government penalization, whether through nutrition or tax policies, will not lead to meaningful results in assisting Americans to adopt healthier lifestyles.

Americans are consuming more calories from all types of foods today than what was consumed 30 years ago, and we expend less energy to burn the extra calories. Major contributors to this calorie increase include calories from added fats and from flour and cereal products. Added sugars account for a much smaller part of the daily increase.

Audrae Erickson


The writer is the president of the Corn Refiners Assn.


Finally, a sound idea to help cover healthcare costs. With millions of soda drinkers in our country, taxing sugar-sweetened beverages is a great way to help prevent many people from drinking soda. Yet the soda tax could be used as a source of revenue for outlandish healthcare costs.

Even as an avid “soda-holic,” I feel that this is one of the best ideas Congress has come up with in decades.

Tamar Artin Tarzana


As a cancer researcher, I am appalled by the comparison of cigarettes to sweetened beverages.

Cigarettes contain an addictive substance and numerous known carcinogens and tumor promoters. Scientifically proved to be the major cause of lung and other cancers, they are also a major contributor to cardiovascular and lung disease.

Thus, the analogy of taxing tobacco to taxing sweetened beverages is an outrage that trivializes proven causes of deadly diseases that inflict tragedy and enormous societal cost.

Sweetened drinks are refreshment beverages that provide hydration. As a medical scientist and former scientific advisor to the beverage industry, I know that science does not support the notion that these beverages uniquely contribute to obesity.

Obesity can be easily explained -- too many calories in, too few out.

Richard H. Adamson

Germantown, Md.


The writers claim that needed revenues would be raised by increased taxation of sugar-sweetened beverages, and that the taxes would discourage consumption of these beverages, leading to enormous health benefits. But significant revenues would be raised only if the tax had at best a modest effect on consumption. Such a modest effect on consumption would probably have a negligible public health impact.

According to the article, “A regular 20-ounce soda contains 17 teaspoons of sugar and 250 calories.” If consumers were to shift to naturally sugary beverages that would not be subject to the proposed tax hike -- such as fruit juices -- they would actually increase their calorie consumption per ounce.

We should carefully consider the potential unintended negative consequences of the doctors’ soda-tax solution.

William M. London

Los Angeles

The writer is a professor of health science at Cal State Los Angeles.


Your Op-Ed article shows that the authors’ true motivation is to raise revenue, not address the complex problem of obesity.

Our industry, however, has taken significant steps to do just that by educating consumers about calorie balance -- something a tax can’t teach.

Since 2006, we’ve been implementing national school beverage guidelines that remove regular soda from all schools while capping calories and reducing portion sizes for remaining beverages. We’re delivering results: Calories from beverages in schools have dropped by more than half. Industry innovation also continues, bringing more no- and low-calorie beverages to the marketplace.

Since 1998, we’ve significantly reduced the calories per ounce, yet CDC data show that obesity rates grew during that time. This makes it difficult to point the finger at sugar-sweetened beverages.

Science supports that it all comes down to balancing calories. Beverages can be a source of calories. But you can be a healthy person and enjoy a soft drink.

Susan Neely


The writer is president and chief executive of the American Beverage Assn.