Greater Greater Washington

Soda tax would boost public health

Proposals to tax soda are looking likely to fail in Pennsylvania and New York. Will one pass in DC?


Photo by EasyEcoBlog.

Mary Cheh's DC Healthy Schools Act proposes a tax of 1 cent per fluid ounce of sugary soft drinks. A 1 cent tax would add about $1.44 to the cost of a 12 pack of soda. Such a tax would generate about $16 million annual and provide the $6 million Cheh needs to implement school programs that promote healthy eating behaviors as well as healthier breakfast and lunch options.

If the bill passes, DC would join at least 30 other states that impose small sales taxes on soft drinks and/or snacks. However, Cheh's proposal is unique in that the tax would fund an educational program to foster healthy eating among DC's youth. It is important to lay the foundation of healthy habits early one because children often develop eating and brand loyalties at a young age.

The DC city council should pass this critical piece of public health legislation. While medical technology has certainly helped increase life expectancy, it is good public health policies that have improved the quality of life for many.

Compare the possible benefits of a soda tax to the cigarette tax. Taxing cigarettes has proven to be highly successful in reducing consumption. For every 10 percent increase in the price of cigarettes reduces sales by 3 to 5 percent and has lead to better health outcomes. Sugary beverages like soda can lead to negative health outcomes for children and adults. Obesity-related medical expenditures cost tax payers approximately 74 billion a year through Medicaid and Medicare.

A reduction in child obesity could lead to major savings for DC tax payers over the long term. In 2008 36 percent of high school students were clinically overweight and obese. If we assume that the patterns of obesity are the same among younger children, then about 41,000 children 18 and younger are overweight or obese in the District.

Researchers estimate that the cost of health care associated with obese children in 2008 is $15.97. If we multiply the number of overweight and obese children in the District by $15.97, then the total cost of obesity related health care is approximately $655,000.

While a small tax can generate millions, will it actually have the effect of reducing soda consumption? Most likely not. Studies indicate that a tax of at least 18 percent would be needed. Experts at the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity argue that the tax needs to be high if we want to change American's addiction to sugary drinks. However, city council members and the voting public may be less willing to accept a tax much higher than 1 cent. Only those who truly think that obesity is a major problem for the district would be willing to pay a higher soda tax.

Opponents of a soda tax argue that a tax would disproportionately hurt the poor who spend a larger proportion of their income on food. This may be true, but only for poor people who consume more soft drinks. The bigger problem for low-income households is having access to grocery stores that offer healthy, affordable food options. It is no coincidence that areas of the District that lack access to grocery stores (mainly in Wards 5, 6, 7, and 8) tend to have higher rates of obesity than wards in the upper Northwest. Hopefully Cheh's program could be extended to provide food subsidies to families living in areas with few healthy food options.

The beverage industry is fiercely opposing the proposed tax. The Maryland-Delaware-D.C. beverage association and more than three dozen city grocers and restaurants have formed a group called No D.C. Beverage Tax. The group has run full-page ads in the Metro along with other local papers and radio spots.

The Campaign for Healthy Kids argues that the American Beverage Association has spent $5.4 million to fight various state and local initiatives to tax soda, and that DC is now it's new target. They have started a petition to urge the City Council to pass Cheh's proposal.

While much of the debate regarding the soda tax is focused on the "tax" itself, proponents of the tax need to focus more on the public health message. The purpose behind the Healthy Schools act is to fund nutrition programs and reduce consumptions of unhealthy products. Hopefully it will be the public health message, and not the industry message, that will resonate with city council members when the act is up for a final vote later this month. Pass the soda tax, it's good public health policy.

Lynda Laughlin is a family demographer at the U.S. Census Bureau. She holds a PhD in sociology and enjoys reading, writing, and researching issues related to families and communities, urban economics, and urban development. Lynda lives in Mt. Pleasant. Views expressed here are strictly her own. 

Comments

Add a comment »

If we say "It's for the children" enough times, and we wish really, really, really hard when we say it, it will make it so.

Here's my biggest beef:

How is it that a massive tax increase is being proposed without there being a single public hearing on the issue?

Cheh never introduced a bill to impose the tax. There's never been a Council hearing to discuss the tax and whether it's a good idea. Instead, she's trying to stick it into next year's budget, without there being a public hearing on the matter.

How exactly does that comport with her good governance views?

by Fritz on May 18, 2010 11:43 am • linkreport

I don't understand what all the fuss is about. I believe that Maryland and Virginia already tax soda (Maryland collects sales taxes prepared foods and Virginia collects sales taxes on all food). Instead of having a deliberate soda tax built into the cost of the product, why not just remove soda's exemption from sales tax?

by Adam L on May 18, 2010 11:43 am • linkreport

Why tax soda?

Why single out that product? I don't drink that much soda. I don't have a problem paying taxes (in general, at least). I just don't see what's sparking this idea to tax soda _in particular_. Tax all food, or all purchases made anywhere, but why single out soda?

by yatesc on May 18, 2010 11:47 am • linkreport

It appears that D.C. repealed its "snack food" tax in 2006: http://newsroom.dc.gov/show.aspx/agency/otr/section/2/release/8137/year/2001/month/6

It may be time to take a look at reversing that action.

by Adam L on May 18, 2010 11:49 am • linkreport

12 packs are usually on sale.

Recently Safeway had a promotion on Pepsi products -- buy 3 for 7.99

That works out to 2.33 each.

A $1.44 tax = a rate of 47.8%

Outrageous.

VA's 2.5% tax on food would net a tax of $0.07

by Ben on May 18, 2010 11:54 am • linkreport

The problem with that kind of soda tax is that it'll only drive people into areas outside DC to buy soda just like it has with the bag fee. As it is, many DC people aren't effected since for a fair amount of DC, the closest supermarkets are in Maryland.

Everyone I know who lives in New York near a (domestic) border has threatened to buy soda across state lines if that tax passed. This even includes my relatives on Staten Island who have an $8 toll between them and soda tax-free New Jersey. That says a lot there, now imagine how it'd work in the worst place for a sales tax hike.

by Jason on May 18, 2010 12:00 pm • linkreport

@ Adam L -- VA and MD tax soda along with the full range of food (with possibly some very limited exceptions). There's a significant difference between a broad ranging, low tax (e.g., 1.5% on all food), and a narrow, targeted tax that singles out one particular food product and applies a tax that likely runs upward of 25%.

If you look to VA and MD as an analogy then you should support instead a broad-based sales tax on all food, which currently DC does not have.

by ah on May 18, 2010 12:02 pm • linkreport

make an exception for orange soda.

by exception on May 18, 2010 12:09 pm • linkreport

Tax the pop (soda). In addition to being a major contributor on the population level to the chronic health problems Lynda decsribes there is the effect of HFCS and it's terrible for your teeth. Tax the pop and get rid of taxes on toothbrushes and toothpaste.

by Bianchi on May 18, 2010 12:10 pm • linkreport

Agree with Ben. I'm not fundamentally opposed to the tax, but it is just too high. DC is already moving the bag tax from the river cleanup to the general fund, so I'm not inclined to believe the council when they say a soda tax will go directly towards obesity programs.

by Brian S. on May 18, 2010 12:11 pm • linkreport

Q: What to do in a weak economy...?

A: Hmm...pass huge regressive taxes and/or drive business out of the district, I can't decide..so,let's do both!

by ed on May 18, 2010 12:14 pm • linkreport

Bianchi: Okay, so you're in favor of taxing unhealthy things. I don't agree, but let's say we suppose that's a good idea. Why stop at soda? Why not tax ALL products with HFCS? What about bacon, or candy, or potato chips? What about beef, or granola bars (both high in fat!).

by yatesc on May 18, 2010 12:14 pm • linkreport

@ah

Yes. I understand that. Maryland specifically taxes prepared/processed foods but keeps foods like meat and produce exempt. I think that would be the way to go generate about the same amount of revenue on the entire range of "unhealthy" foods.

by Adam L on May 18, 2010 12:16 pm • linkreport

While I generally support taxing "bads" like soda rather than "goods" like income, I agree the tax is too much too fast. Better to start by removing soda and other junk foods from the food tax exemption.

by Erica on May 18, 2010 12:17 pm • linkreport

Tax Fro-Yo!

It is fattening yuppies all over the district! We have to stop them from killing themselves slowly through gluttony! They canÂ’t control themselves and canÂ’t make their own decisions, so we will tax this sin until they just stop sinning!

by ed on May 18, 2010 12:17 pm • linkreport

Ok, so this applies to "sugary soft drinks", are diet sodas exempt?

by spookiness on May 18, 2010 12:20 pm • linkreport

Yes, diet sodas are exempt.

by Lynda on May 18, 2010 12:21 pm • linkreport

Why does the article omit the fact that the tax exempts diet and non-caloric sodas?

by Steve S on May 18, 2010 12:22 pm • linkreport

Ed, frozen yougurt at commercial stands already is taxed like in any other eatery.

by Cavan on May 18, 2010 12:23 pm • linkreport

Jason,
the thing about people who whine about taxes and threaten to make economically illogical decisions out of spite rarely actually follow through with it. You say that people are shopping outside DC because of the bag tax, where's the non-anecdotal evidence of that?

There is evidence with the cigarette tax that some people will make an economically rational choice to buy their cigarettes outside DC after the tax hike. Where the threshold is is the question. Will people make a special trip to avoid paying an extra buck or so on a six pack? Maybe but I bet it will be fewer people than would change their patterns over the cigarette tax.

My own feeling is that the tax may be on the slightly high side. But not by that much.

by Reid on May 18, 2010 12:25 pm • linkreport

@ Steve S: I didn't omit it on purpose. I wanted to focus more on the public health benefits associated with the soda tax. In my opinion, the soda tax is a form of public health policy and years from now we will see the benefit of such a tax if Cheh's Healthy School Program is done correctly. It's time to change our eating habits.

by Lynda on May 18, 2010 12:25 pm • linkreport

Gatorade? Vitamin Water?

And I want to make sure bike-gels are included in this tax as well. Iced tea too.

And does anyone think

1) $6 million is going to really improve the quality of school food in the District?

2) In an era with record deficits, what are the chances of this money being put into the general fund?

3) Isn't the real argument that if we let poor people die quickly, retirement and other health care costs are reduced?

When I see Democrats pretending to be economists, run.

by charlie on May 18, 2010 12:29 pm • linkreport

this debate has already been waged on several other blogs, notably dcist: http://dcist.com/2010/05/soda_tax_opponents_get_organized.php

my main issue with this is the .01 per oz rate - it's entirely too high. many have noted that a bottle of generic soda is about $0.88. this would be subject to a $0.67 tax - 76%! absolutely ridiculous. something more like a flat .05 per container would be much more appropriate.

by johnny on May 18, 2010 12:31 pm • linkreport

@Cavan

It wasn't a serious tax proposal. Really just hinting playfully at the social and economic issues behind this, and the regressive nature of the tax in general.
("save the fat children", etc).

It's sold as a 'feel good' tax, but is really regressive taxation, harming business, and increased spending in a down economy.

by ed on May 18, 2010 12:32 pm • linkreport

Is this just bottled or canned soda? How would fountain drinks at restaurants/cafes be impacted?

by Jason on May 18, 2010 12:35 pm • linkreport

Good post, Charlie.

I'll use the "Tax GU" refrain to make sure people get the sarcasm.

by ed on May 18, 2010 12:36 pm • linkreport

Why not tax ALL products with HFCS? Great idea! Better yet get rid of the USDA subsidies that have made HFCS cheaper then sugar and helped it permeate our food landscape over the last 30 years making it increasingly difficult to CHOOSE to live without it. Where's my freedom of choice? Incidentally, I specifically commented on pop, not all "unhealthy things". Pop consumption is linked as a contributor to the childhood obsesity epidemic, which is very costly to tax payers in the long run. Save me money by taxing pop.

by Bianchi on May 18, 2010 12:45 pm • linkreport

Bianchi - I'm all in favor of taking away the USDA subsidies, but that's really not what we're discussing, is it? My point is that IF the reason that you're in favor of taxing soda is because it's unhealthy, THEN you logically should be in favor of taxing _all_ unhealthy foods, or at least unhealthy foods likely to be consumed by children. Why single out soda? Why not little debbie cakes or whatever?

by yatesc on May 18, 2010 12:51 pm • linkreport

What we're discussing is mitigating the toxic negative effects of USDA subsidies. It would be better if we weren't forced (as "taxpayers") to pay for both the mess and the clean-up, but there you go. As Rumsfeld famously quipped, "Sometimes Democracy is messy." And the fact that largely rural states vote overwhelmingly for massive agri-business subsidies in the hopes that some of the crumbs will fall to the average small-scale farmer is a distortion that's not going away. At least not as long as we continue to assign Senators by acre of land, rather than by citizen.

The argument that "you can't A unless you also do everything that's remotely like A" is a bit silly. Who says we can't? We're just about to. What, are we infringing on Dr. Pepper's constitutional protections?

by oboe on May 18, 2010 1:04 pm • linkreport

yatesc, yes, in my mind the USDA subsidies are directly related to why pop is a problem. The cheapness of the HFCS directly contributes to why pop is so inexpensive, leading to its increased consumption and, again, linking this consumption to the rise in childhood obesity. Little Debbie Cakes or whatever are not consumed nearly in as great a proportion to total calories as pop. In my mind it is logical to single out pop, and I include gatorade and other drinks in that. Although I do agree this tax does seem high. It's probably a negotiating spot. But given the tax subsidies going into the production of pop, pop is artifically cheap. For an example of how HFCS has permeated our choices next time you buy bread look at the ingredients. 4/5 of the loaves you look at will list HFCS as a 2nd or 3rd ingredient. One must serach for a loaf of bread w/o HFCS. Sometimes its not availabale and this really pisses me off. Yes, its related to the increase in pop comsumption since 1975.

by Bianchi on May 18, 2010 1:04 pm • linkreport

The proposed tax is insanely high. Anyone who thinks a $3/case or $0.65/2-liter bottle tax on soda won't drive grocery business out of DC, must have failed to notice what happened with our latest cigarette tax. And that was only 50 cents more, less than 10 percent of the cost of a pack of cigarettes.

Sugar is not inherently unhealthy. There's legitimate research that says carbohydrates in any form are just as much a problem as sugar. Should we tax flour? What about beef? Vegetable oil? Anything with fat?

People who exercise a lot consume a lot more calories than lazy, fat people. This tax makes the healthiest people pay a lot too.

If we need money, fine, raise taxes, but singling out something like soda is just crazy.

by Jamie on May 18, 2010 1:11 pm • linkreport

and what oboe said.

by Bianchi on May 18, 2010 1:12 pm • linkreport

Oboe - Didn't say 'can't'. Can, certainly. I'm asking if it's something that SHOULD be done. Even if, as Bianchi pointed out, Little Debbie cakes aren't consumed in near the same quantity as Dr Pepper, why not expand a HFCS sin tax to include both? My argument was simply that if one is in favor of taxing a subset of foods-dangerous-to-children, why not tax the whole set? It's not that it's not possible, it's that it doesn't make logical sense to single out soda.

by yatesc on May 18, 2010 1:12 pm • linkreport

As the last of ten kids, I am glad that sugar, pasta,rice,cereal, and flour were not on the 'sin tax' list when I grew up. I might have starved.

by ed on May 18, 2010 1:18 pm • linkreport

The tax also seems unfair in what it targets. Any juice that is under 70% juice gets taxed. That means cranberry (usually 27%, pomegranate (under 25%) or any fruit juice that is so strong it can't usually be consumed at full-strength is taxed. These are ironically the ones that are usually associated with the greatest health benefits.

It also taxes coffee and tea "if sugar is added at point of sale" meaning that all coffee shops will have to change the way they distribute sugar - you won't be able to add it yourself. This also includes fast food restaurants, 7-11, and so on - no more self-service sugar.

They will basically have to charge you 12-24 cents for a pack of sugar at the register. I can't believe that doesn't seem to be a problem for anyone.

Are we not going to tax sugar in 5 lb bags at the grocery store? Can Starbucks now just start selling sugar packs for a penny each to get around the tax?

The more we try to tax "lifestyles" the deeper a hole we dig. Soda is not directly responsible for bad eating habits and taxing it won't change the problem, it will just shift more tax burden on poorer people.

by Jamie on May 18, 2010 1:19 pm • linkreport

It's not that it's not possible, it's that it doesn't make logical sense to single out soda.

Right, but we heard the same argument during the debate over the bag fee. Why not tax dry cleaning bags? What about the bags that newspapers come in?

God knows. Could be industry lobbying. But politics, especially at the local level, is the art of the possible. The point of this tax (the front-end, at least) is to make unhealthy sodas marginally more expensive for cash-strapped kids. So, what, 12 cents for a 12 oz soda seems reasonable. As Jamie hinted, the only time that adults will even notice the tax will be when making bulk purchases.

But the idea that it'll drive bulk shoppers to the 'burbs to buy their cases of soda seems a bit overblown. Most folks who buy soda by the case are probably going to big-box suburban stores anyway...

by oboe on May 18, 2010 1:22 pm • linkreport

yes, Oboe. No one buys 2 liter bottles (63 cents tax per unit?) of soda within the district...ever...and everyone has a car...

by ed on May 18, 2010 1:25 pm • linkreport

Jamie, pops that are consumed in greatest quantities aren't sweetened with sugar. If they were they would already be more expensive, maybe even more then this tax would make them. Are you certain the bill proposes taxing sugar added to coffee as you describe?

by Bianchi on May 18, 2010 1:29 pm • linkreport

Sorry if I wasn't clear: yep, if you're buying a couple of 2 liter bottles of soda, and you're over, say, 14 years old, $1.20 is negligible. Especially if you're buying groceries.

Disclaimer: I usually drink soda water w/ a little key lime juice, so I've got no skin in the game.

by oboe on May 18, 2010 1:33 pm • linkreport

"But the idea that it'll drive bulk shoppers to the 'burbs to buy their cases of soda seems a bit overblown"

Why would people who buy a lot of soda behave differently than people who buy a lot of any other product? Have you already forgotten the stories about all the crazy things people did to avoid paying a nickel for a plastic bag?

That 50 cent tax cost us $7 million in revenue, about 25% of the total vs. 2009. That wasn't from people who quit smoking I assure you.

As you noted, the tax has the least impact on single purchases, where soda costs sometimes 5 times as much as it does in cases or big bottles. Would you really care about paying $1.66 instead of $1.50 for a 16-oz bottle?

Unfortunately this is what kids are most likely to be buying. This means it's very unlikely to affect their consumption habits, which is supposedly the point of the tax. But it is far more likely to affect bulk purchasing habits, like with cigarettes.

by Jamie on May 18, 2010 1:33 pm • linkreport

@Jason - if people drink so much soda that it would actually save them money to drive to maryland and stock up, then a tax is exactly what we need to save enough money to subsidize their inevitable diabetes and heart disease.

Also, I can make up facts, too. The bag tax is the reason why Obama canceled the Orion missions and are funding the taliban.

Soda is bad for me. Sometimes I drink it. It won't kill me to pay a little extra tax (but the corn syrup might).

by D on May 18, 2010 1:35 pm • linkreport

I am fully insured for my health care. Thus, my dietary habbits (good and bad) have no real impact on any other District residents (my doctor isn't even in DC for that matter). I don't use public health services, don't go to the ER for my basic healthcare, etc. Thus, why should I pay this tax?

This tax should be on the uninsured and especially those on Medicare and Medicaid. Their habbits affect all of us because we pay for their healthcare. Fair is fair. You want the government to pay for your healthcare, then you need to take some responsibility over how you live your life.

Let's see if DC has the guts to levy this tax only people on Medicare and Medicaid.

by urbaner on May 18, 2010 1:36 pm • linkreport

@ed - I totally agree. If we don't save the yuppies and hipsters from themselves then who will?

by D on May 18, 2010 1:37 pm • linkreport

"Are you certain the bill proposes taxing sugar added to coffee as you describe?"

You know what? I read that wrong. Coffee and tea are EXCLUDED when sugar is added at the point of sale. My bad. But it sounds like any coffee beverage OTHER than drip coffee would be subject to the tax.

It does not discriminate between sugar and high fructose corn syrup though. (Any caloric sweetener counts.)

Exclusions:

“(3) “Sugar-sweetened beverage” means a non-alcoholic beverage that contains caloric sweeteners. The term “sugar-sweetened beverage” shall not include beverages that contain:
“(A) Milk or milk products;
“(B) Soy, rice, or similar milk substitutes;
“(C) Greater than 70% of vegetable or fruit juice by volume;
“(D) Coffee or tea when a caloric sweetener is added at the point of sale;
“(E) Infant formula; or
“(F) Medically necessary beverages.

by Jamie on May 18, 2010 1:38 pm • linkreport

"Coffee or tea when a caloric sweetener is added at the point of sale"

Can't wait until starbucks hears about this....Jamie is right, it includes every frappacino...how much do you think it will cost to reprogram all those registers?

This is a publicity stunt combined with a money grab. Not sure which is worse.

by charlie on May 18, 2010 1:40 pm • linkreport

@ urbaner

Who cares if you have insurance now? In 40 years (if you make it) you'll be claiming the same Medicare subsidies that the rest of us will for prescriptions. And when your MD-based doctor prescribes you pills to treat the hypertension that you cause by decades of crappy eating habits, the rest of us will have to help pay for them.

by D on May 18, 2010 1:47 pm • linkreport

Oboe, it's not negligible. Tell that to the people who scrape together enough just enough change for the bus

60 cents per two liter will add up quickly.

I think almost no one is putting this in context of a poor or out of work family's budget, and how large consumption taxes can add up over, say, a month or so.

My guess is that few people on this board grew up poor.

Yes, too much sugar is bad, we all know that.

... but how about a 40% (just like the 60 cents/ $1.50 soda tax) tax on all of your favorite foods? Or, on everything with sugar?

How about a flat 40% tax on everyone's grocery bill?

By the way, good posts, Jamie.

by ed on May 18, 2010 1:48 pm • linkreport

One other thing that I think is worth mentioning is that this tax is more than ten times as much as DC's beer tax, and almost as much as our liquor tax.

I think it's hilarious that we are concerned about the public safety threat from coke but apparently we're perfectly content with one of the lowest beer taxes in the nation.

Here's to your health...

Beer - 9 cents/gallon (128 oz.)
Wine = 30 cents/gallon
Liquor - $1.50/gallon

Soda (proposed) $1.28/gallon

I guess the liquor lobby is the giant gorilla around here after all.

by Jamie on May 18, 2010 1:51 pm • linkreport

@ Jamie

The objective of Cheh's bill is to improve the eating habits of school-aged students. Beer, wine, and liquor aren't relevant because of...the drinking age.

Also, what are some of these stories of people going to dramatic ends to avoid the $0.05 bag tax? Is there a news story I'm missing? I think most of us avoided them by...buying a reusable bag.

by D on May 18, 2010 1:55 pm • linkreport

@ed, no one needs pop to survive. Its a luxury item not a necessity. This argument that "poor" people will be overburdened when they go to buy pop just doesn't resonate with me. What does is the fact that the foods that are most unhealthy are also the cheapest because of the structure of the USDA subsidies.

by Bianchi on May 18, 2010 1:57 pm • linkreport

1. As everyone has said the tax is way to high. It almost doubles the price of soda in some cases

2.The health arguement is bogus as well. How does diet soda fit into that mix which sells at a rate of 8 to one for regular coke as an example. It should not be taxed at that arguement. Do energy drinks factor in as well? What about OJ which is just as high in sugar.

3. This opens up a whole new area where governments can now tax us. Next will be foods high in fat, etc etc.

4. It is not the job of the government to regulate our diet. Yes they should make recomendations, yes they should keep us informed letting us know soda can make us fat, but in the end its our choice.

by Matt R on May 18, 2010 1:57 pm • linkreport

I think D is really William Shatner in disguise by the way their posts... have a dramatic pause.

by kidincredible on May 18, 2010 1:59 pm • linkreport

@Jamie:

Why would people who buy a lot of soda behave differently than people who buy a lot of any other product? Have you already forgotten the stories about all the crazy things people did to avoid paying a nickel for a plastic bag?

If by "changed their behavior" you mean, stopped shopping in DC, then I wouldn't say I've "forgotten" them so much as "discounted" them. Aside from a few cranks and outliers, no one's making long trips to MD to shop who wouldn't have done it before.

I do see folks who've "changed their behavior" by bringing in reusable bags, and by, say, carrying 3-4 items to their car in their hands if they forget, but that was at least a part of what the bill was intended to produce, right?

by oboe on May 18, 2010 2:01 pm • linkreport

1. Would a more moderate tax be met with a warmer reception

2. The diet drinks aren't taxed. Energy drinks that have sugar (almost all of them) are taxed. Most of the "energy" is fructose. Orange juice has vitamins.

4. The government isn't regulating your diet. You would be free to drink as much soda as you want. You would just have to pay more.

by D on May 18, 2010 2:02 pm • linkreport

@D: "The objective of Cheh's bill is to improve the eating habits of school-aged students."

No, the objective is to pay for the healthy schools eating program.

How many school age kids buy soda in quantities other than a single can or bottle with any regularity? Do you think 12-16 cents on top of each $1-$1.50 purchase is likely to change that habit in any way?

Do you even have any idea what percentage of the soda in DC is sold directly to school-age kids? I don't... but then I'm not proposing huge taxes on something I don't know about.

"Beer, wine, and liquor aren't relevant because of...the drinking age."

The reason soda is targeted is because sugar contributes to health problems -- of everyone, not just school kids.

"Also, what are some of these stories"

There were many stories about people juggling groceries, carrying them home with one hand, and so on early on to avoid the tax.

What would be the "bring a reusable bag" equivalent when it comes to soda?

The more relevant analogy is the cigarette tax, since there's no "alternative" like bringing a bag to avoid it. It is irrefutable that the tax drove a great deal of business to neighboring states.

by Jamie on May 18, 2010 2:05 pm • linkreport

Matt R, your diet is highly regulated by the government. It is government regulation that makes pop prices so artficially low, along with other items. What about food safety? Do you think there's a role for the government in that type of regulation? But that's OT. Again, with or without this tax your food landscape is highly regulated by the government.

by Bianchi on May 18, 2010 2:05 pm • linkreport

@oboe

Right. The bag tax was less about raising money and more about ending plastic bag use.

The bag tax was designed to protect the Chesapeake watershed from millions of plastic bags. The tax was designed to be offensively high so that people would stop using them.

In the end, the tax would (1) save the local governments money that would have to be used to clean the Potomac, Anacostia, and Chesapeake and (2) increase business by helping to bring back local fisheries. In this case, the total regional utility is inversely proportional to the total bag tax revenue collected.

Understandably, people like Jamie are offended and feel that it infringes on their right to pollute.

by D on May 18, 2010 2:06 pm • linkreport

"no one needs pop to survive"

Sorry Bianchi. This is not an argument for a tax.

There is very little that you could say that one "needs to survive" other than perhaps ramen noodles.

Anyway, if you like that one, I bring you back to our beer tax which is 1/10 the proposed soda tax.

by Jamie on May 18, 2010 2:06 pm • linkreport

"Do you even have any idea what percentage of the soda in DC is sold directly to school-age kids? I don't..."

So, why did you bring it up?

"What would be the "bring a reusable bag" equivalent when it comes to soda?"

Drinking water, actual fruit juice, or milk. And exercising.

by D on May 18, 2010 2:08 pm • linkreport

"Aside from a few cranks and outliers, no one's making long trips to MD to shop who wouldn't have done it before."

Perhaps you've forgotten that 30 square miles, almost half, of DC's territory is within a mile of a border with VA or MD. Perhaps you've also forgotten that a lot of people (actually, myself, my fiancee, and most of my friends) work in Maryland or Virginia.

We aren't in Greenland you know. DC just got it's first Target store a couple years ago, most people go to MD and VA routinely out of necessity anyway. Grocery shopping there is not exactly an inconvenience.

Given the ever-increasing number of taxes on that chore, it's becoming an easier choice to make every day.

by Jamie on May 18, 2010 2:09 pm • linkreport

The Target in Greenland is hiring, btw.

http://www.seacoastonline.com/articles/20090513-BIZ-905130327

by D on May 18, 2010 2:10 pm • linkreport

Any argument using the phrase "have you already forgotten the stories" is inherently an argument built on anecdote and truthiness.

by Reid on May 18, 2010 2:10 pm • linkreport

@Jamie,

Just wanted to point out that your cite of DC's tax on liquor is incomplete. Yes, it's 9 cents per gallon, but there's an additional 8% sales tax for off-premise, and 10% for on-premise, so the net tax is effectively higher:

http://www.cspinet.org/new/pdf/state_rank--jan_2009.pdf

Somehow the idea that poor folks' quality of life will be adversely impacted unless they're able to pour torrents of cheap sugary sodas down their children's necks isn't very compelling to me. Especially given that the low price of said soda is as artificial as the dyes they tint it with.

by oboe on May 18, 2010 2:11 pm • linkreport

@D,

If "The objective of Cheh's bill is to improve the eating habits of school-aged students" I, as an adult, would be exempt from the soda tax, right? Or is Councilmember Cheh's "won't somebody please think of the children" handwringing just the excuse behind yet another regressive tax hike aimed at filling the hole in the city's budget without resorting to politically unpopular moves like raising the income or property taxes.

by Jacob on May 18, 2010 2:11 pm • linkreport

"So, why did you bring it up?"

I would hope that before taxing a product with the intent of reducing it's consumption in a particular demographic, you have some idea whether you are actually affecting them primarily, or mostly affecting a lot of other people.

"Drinking water, actual fruit juice, or milk. And exercising."

You must be one of those people who believes that the $7 million in revenue we lost from the cigarette tax is because 25% of DC smokers quit in October of last year, then.

by Jamie on May 18, 2010 2:11 pm • linkreport

@Jaime

To clarify -- you are arguing that high cigarette taxes dissuade people from smoking, which is bad because we lose tax revenue.

by D on May 18, 2010 2:14 pm • linkreport

@oboe:

"Somehow the idea that poor folks' quality of life will be adversely impacted unless they're able to pour torrents of cheap sugary sodas down their children's necks isn't very compelling to me. "

This is the most arrogant thing you have said yet. Why don't you just propose a menu that we will mandate every DC resident consume? I assume it will be particularly heavy in quinoa and beets.

"Especially given that the low price of said soda is as artificial as the dyes they tint it with."

You seem to have no problem with saccharin and aspartame, which have been demonstrated to cause cancer in large enough quantities, which are specifically exempt from the tax.

But anyway this is obviously all about what you think is best for people, beacaus Mama Mary knows best.

by Jamie on May 18, 2010 2:15 pm • linkreport

@Bianchi, I think I admitted that too much sugar is not good for you (but sugar is not by itself bad)..and, I grant you soda is not goood for you..BUT people will still buy soda, and DEFINITELY things with sugar..and it will therefore be a financial burden.

So, how about we tax YOUR sinful purchases?...at 40%

Oh, you wouldn't like that?? OK, we will just target other people's diets..because, well, they don't know any better.

Besides, do you all think this will go to the super dreamy vision of DC kids eating organic vegetables all day? Think this money won't be stolen by Fenty?

It's a regressive tax and a huge tax in the middle of a recession. Great Idea. "Save the fat babies!"

by ed on May 18, 2010 2:16 pm • linkreport

"To clarify -- you are arguing that high cigarette taxes dissuade people from smoking, which is bad because we lose tax revenue."

No, d. That is what you seem to believe, not me.

Perhaps I was not clear enough. The results of our latest cigarette tax increase conclusively prove that people are perfectly willing to shop in MD or VA to buy a commodity that's taxed more heavily here.

There are two possibilities to account for a $7 million revenue drop when we raised the cig tax. One - 25% of DC smokers suddenly quit. Two - they started buying them in MD or VA. I'm putting my money on #2, but that's just me.

by Jamie on May 18, 2010 2:17 pm • linkreport

@jamie

There are two possibilities to account for a $7 million revenue drop when we raised the cig tax. One - 25% of DC smokers suddenly quit. Two - they started buying them in MD or VA. I'm putting my money on #2, but that's just me.

While we're engaging in pure speculation I'd suggest you may have missed a third possibility, which is: 3) Some combination of 1) and 2).

But to your larger point: so what? I'm sure we could find all sorts of ways to maximize revenue by making our residents chronically ill and hastening their death. Heck, we might even qualify for more Federal dollars.

by oboe on May 18, 2010 2:22 pm • linkreport

@Jamie, I didn't say it was a reason for the tax. I said arguing that the tax burdens "poor" people unfairly when they go to buy pop doesn't resonate with me - and that what does resonante with me is the fact that the foods with the least quality are also the cheapest b/c those are the foods whose production is subsidized by USDA. True i said right away 'tax it" but I am making the argument pop is already artificially low in price b/c of gov'mnt regs, and that this has directly contributed to pop's increased consumption, giving it a disproportionate spot in kids' total caloric intake. Thats why pop is targeted.

by Bianchi on May 18, 2010 2:24 pm • linkreport

@Jamie

You miss the point of the cigarette tax, which was to get people to stop smoking. A reduction in cigarette tax revenue is an accurate measure of an overall reduction in cigarette sales, and a reasonable measure of a reduction in cigarette use. As it is, I don't know of other data to back up your hunch?

by D on May 18, 2010 2:24 pm • linkreport

I can't wait until I have all my money and choice taken away from me, and the "Approved Diet" comes out.

Then, I get to wait in a huge line for my monthly rations.

;-)

by ed on May 18, 2010 2:26 pm • linkreport

Bianchi is right -- technically soda sells at a price that is below what it should anyway. If Jamie really wants the guvnermint out of our lives, it might be reasonable to ask for a removal of farm subsidies that depress the prices of unhealthy foods (rather than tax them at the point of sale) and allow them to sell at a market efficiency point that would probably be somewhere with a much lower level of consumption.

by D on May 18, 2010 2:27 pm • linkreport

those farm subsidies also would hit healthy foods (grains) as well.

More expensive food- yay!

one day, regular foods will be as expensive as Whole Foods.

Awesome! Everyone has been screaming out for higher grocery bills, right?

by ed on May 18, 2010 2:34 pm • linkreport

"If Jamie really wants the guvnermint out of our lives,"

Please. I'm all in favor of taxing the hell out of bad stuff (particularly cigarettes and liquor) but targeting soda is no better than targeting ding-dongs, cookies, spearmint gum, beef, butter, and a loaf of bread. Perhaps you were unaware, that there is much research that shows carbohydrates are almost as bad as any kind of sugars for heart health?

On the other hand, I'm completely opposed to taxing things that are just stuff we eat that have no inherent health risks. Sugar is sugar. It's a necessity of life. You can consume to much sugar, salt, and anything else.

Likewise, if you have an extremely active lifestyle, you could consume a twelve pack of soda a day and have zero health risks from it. Calories in, calories out. But I guess the more I exercise, the more taxes I shall pay.

Anyway, I am not at all in favor of corn syrup subsidies. Who said that? This is about the District of Columbia taxing a particular product because it can spin it in a politically popular way.

On Mary Cheh's web site it says that kids get 11% of their calories from sugar. How come you don't care about the other 89%? What about the fat and carbs, which are probably what's really making them obese? Oh, sorry, too unpopular to tax bread.

by Jamie on May 18, 2010 2:34 pm • linkreport

('removal of farm subsidies', i meant...)

by ed on May 18, 2010 2:35 pm • linkreport

@Jamie:

"Somehow the idea that poor folks' quality of life will be adversely impacted unless they're able to pour torrents of cheap sugary sodas down their children's necks isn't very compelling to me. "

This is the most arrogant thing you have said yet. Why don't you just propose a menu that we will mandate every DC resident consume? I assume it will be particularly heavy in quinoa and beets.

Obviously you're exaggerating to make a point. But it's clear we've got a fundamental disagreement: you think it's illegitimate for the state to impose "sin taxes" on things like cigarettes, alcohol, and other types of very unhealthy consumables--especially those that are targeted towards young people. I, and obviously most of the elected representatives on the Council, disagree. I doubt we're going to come to some sort of common-sensical middle-ground position.

But anyway this is obviously all about what you think is best for people, beacaus Mama Mary knows best.

Well, of course I would say scientists, public health officials, and concerned parents know best, but there y'go. If you find it comforting to think of me as the Avatar of the Nanny State, delivering this legislation to Cheh on a stone tablet, knock yourself out.

by oboe on May 18, 2010 2:35 pm • linkreport

@ed:

I can't wait until I have all my money and choice taken away from me, and the "Approved Diet" comes out.
Then, I get to wait in a huge line for my monthly rations.

You laugh (because it's funny) but there's approximately 30% of the US population that are stupid enough to believe in "death panels."

by oboe on May 18, 2010 2:37 pm • linkreport

Have at 'em Jamie!

I'm giving up on this.

The "Save the Babies" message behind this tax is too cuddly and sweet. It might as well be 'Save the Puppies"

And puppies are way too cute to argue over.
;-)

by ed on May 18, 2010 2:37 pm • linkreport

@ Jamie

"I guess the more I exercise, the more taxes I shall pay."

I think the city council shot down the health club/yoga tax last week so you're all good there.

by D on May 18, 2010 2:38 pm • linkreport

@ed, maybe you don't agree w/ me but that's no reason to get nasty and attack me personally. I have consistently, nearly every comment, pointed to federal taxes that you and I and everyone already pays to keep pop prices and prices on a bunch of other "food" items low. In effect these dietary "sins" are subsidized by government regulations and paid for with taxes, to the point that our personal choices are limited by this structure.

by Bianchi on May 18, 2010 2:39 pm • linkreport

Also, sugars are carbs.

by D on May 18, 2010 2:39 pm • linkreport

" you think it's illegitimate for the state to impose "sin taxes" on things like cigarettes, alcohol, and other types of very unhealthy consumable"

Not at all. We disagree that soda is an inherently unhealthy product. I also disagree that soda is 10 times as unhealthy as beer. Don't you think there should be some degree of consistency in terms of the amount we tax something compared to it's risk and cost to society?

What about all the other things we eat that are unhealthy? Why single out soda? Why not doritos? Beef? Butter? Salt? Bleached flour?

FWIW I wouldn't care at all about this tax if it was 1.5% or even 6% like MD or VA. I might not vote for it in a referendum (what's that?) but I wouldn't be here complaining about it.

by Jamie on May 18, 2010 2:40 pm • linkreport

All these slippery slope arguments are as convincing as any slippery slope argument, which is to say naught.

It is a common trope of any anti public health legislation to suggest that it will if course lead to totalitarian control over your life. Of course nobody admits that the opposite is just as unlikely to be true: namely the removal of all public health legislation would improve public health. So I ask you people-who-keep-making-slippery-slope-arguments, why not just remove all public health laws? Inspections drive out cheap businesses and prevent people from getting inexpensive and only slightly rancid meat. Lots of kids wouldn't get measles even without a vaccine.

Is it always better to remove public health laws or not? And if there is some happy medium, who's to say we're on one side of it instead of the other?

by Reid on May 18, 2010 2:40 pm • linkreport

1. I'm a huge supporter of the new tax. Great idea.

2. How many of the posters in these comments are getting paid by the beverage industry PR machine?

3. My real coment is where does the $16 million revenue estimate come from? Seems way too low. Americans average 216 liters of soda a year (reference below) that's 7300 ounces a year, or at the new tax rate $73 per person. Multiplied by 600,000 residents gives us $43.8 million in taxes. But DC residents earn a lot more than average citizens so they can afford more soda than average, plus a whole bunch of people spend most of their waking hours working and recreating in DC where they buy a lot of soda.

On the other hand I'm guessing the soda consumption numbers include diet soda which is not taxed (although they exclude some other beverages that would be taxed) and presumably the tax would lower cnsumption and encourage people to buy soda outside DC.

In any case, $16 million seems way low to me. But that's a good thing since we need the tax revenue.

http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/foo_sof_dri_con-food-soft-drink-consumption

by mike on May 18, 2010 2:41 pm • linkreport

Would the tax be more acceptable to opponents if it were $0.005/oz instead of $0.01/oz?

by D on May 18, 2010 2:43 pm • linkreport

those farm subsidies also would hit healthy foods (grains) as well. More expensive food- yay! One day, regular foods will be as expensive as Whole Foods. Awesome! Everyone has been screaming out for higher grocery bills, right?

Leaving aside the notion of factory farmed corn and wheat being "healthy foods," why not shift the existing subsidy dollars to farming operations that grow healthy fruits and vegetables? Ok, I'll tell you why: because those operations don't lend themselves to the large agribusiness model. In other words, the rural Senators from ADM wouldn't allow it.

[I know I shouldn't follow you off-topic, but I can't help it: The only folks who think Whole Foods is more expensive than, say, Safeway are folks who've never bothered to do the research. WF is actually at or below prices on most comparable items. Generally speaking, the "fact" that WF is expensive is one of those "common sense" things that "everybody knows" because I saw some expensive line-caught wild salmon that was $24/lb one time. Fortunately, since all Safeway has to offer is slightly past-its-prime factory-farmed pre-cut, shrink-wrapped filets, you never have to worry about accidentally buying a big-ticket item like that.]

by oboe on May 18, 2010 2:45 pm • linkreport

Don't you think there should be some degree of consistency in terms of the amount we tax something compared to it's risk and cost to society?

Do I think there should be? Of course. Do I think there's any chance--in a representative democracy--there will be? Not on your life. Do I think that's a major problem worth getting excited over? Not particularly.

You do what you can, hopefully it makes things marginally better, and you come back and do it again the next day. Maybe in three years, folks start saying, "It's ridiculous that alcohol taxes are so low! Look at soda taxes!" Then we raise the alcohol taxes. Then maybe we lower the soda tax. Rinse. Repeat.

by oboe on May 18, 2010 2:50 pm • linkreport

1) Not all carbohydrates are the same. Look up "glycemic index" and spend some time with the subtlties including fiber content.
2)Not all fats are the same. Big diff between trans fat and omega-3.
3) USDA subsidies are known to be disproportionately distributed among production of food that is least in quality (lowest in fiber, highest in glycemic index, highest in "bad" fats).

by Bianchi on May 18, 2010 2:53 pm • linkreport

@Bianchi

Sorry if it came off as nasty- not meant at all

Just being facetious facetious and exaggerating.
---
Will be serious for a sec...
Taxing of sugar and sugar products OR removal of farm subsidies will hit family budgets hard.

Regressive taxes are just that- regressive. I don't like them...and more taxes during a recession?-- come on..

And the message? We all saw that list of potentially taxable things out of the council.

and the anti-government stuff was exaggerated on purpose, but, heck, this tax is exaggerated- at 63 cents per 2 liter!

Are they soft?
--

by ed on May 18, 2010 2:53 pm • linkreport

@oboe... Whole Foods is the same price as Safeway and Giant?

Washington Consumer Checkbook rates local grocery stores

"The report shows that for the same amount of groceries and for comparatively similar items, Wegmans charges $88, followed closely by Shoppers Food Warehouse ($95), Giant/Safeway ($100), Harris Teeter ($101), and Whole Food ($145)."

Then there's this one that compares specific stores where the only WF on the list was 25% higher than it's next closest competitor.

Now I understand why you think the soda tax won't drive people to shop outside DC...

by Jamie on May 18, 2010 2:54 pm • linkreport

Taxing of sugar and sugar products OR removal of farm subsidies will hit family budgets hard.

Still haven't explained why removing subsidies for wheat, corn, and corn syrup products but redeploying them to actual foods like fruits and vegetables would necessarily "hit family budgets hard."

by oboe on May 18, 2010 2:58 pm • linkreport

@Oboe,

"Leaving aside the notion of factory farmed corn and wheat being "healthy foods," why not shift the existing subsidy dollars to farming operations that grow healthy fruits and vegetables? "

Wait- I thought we were talking about subsidy removal??

People have survived on corn, rice and wheat. Some of us don't have the luxury of super healthy diets. I wish we all did. Seriously.

So, I am just imagining that Whole Foods is expensive!? Next thing you know, you will be telling me that organic vegetables don't cost more than regular vegetables...

by ed on May 18, 2010 3:01 pm • linkreport

Leave my Ding-Dongs alone.

by Andrew on May 18, 2010 3:02 pm • linkreport

I didn't see anything about subsidising veggies when I made that comment.

I thought we wanted to raise the price of sugar, and those darn 'unhealthy' grains?

by ed on May 18, 2010 3:03 pm • linkreport

D: Partly, because a portion of my objection is that it's a tax unduly borne by the poor. (As are most taxes.) But not entirely, because it would still be a bad, unjust tax.

by yatesc on May 18, 2010 3:05 pm • linkreport

tax and/or farm subsidy removal = higher food prices

higher food prices = higher grocery bills

higher grocery bills hit poorer families harder than regular families.

How is my logic, everyone? ;-)

by ed on May 18, 2010 3:07 pm • linkreport

"So, I am just imagining that Whole Foods is expensive!?"

No, it is. It's all coming together now.

The people who love this tax are the same people who not only shop at Whole Foods, but don't even realize that it's actually much more expensive than Giant.

If you didn't think that $1.00 for a single lemon was insane, why would you think a 65 cent tax on a 2-liter bottle of soda was insane?

Likewise, if the prices at Whole Foods didn't have you running for the nearest Giant store, why would you think that adding $2.88 in tax on a case of Giant brand soda (retail price - $5.00) would have some people running for Maryland or Virginia?

We simply aren't coming from the same place.

by Jamie on May 18, 2010 3:08 pm • linkreport

@Jamie:
Whole Foods is the same price as Safeway and Giant?

Uh oh. Now you've given me a project for the weekend:

http://ericfaller.com/blog/2008/04/30/whole-foods-vs-safeway/

Your Washington Consumer Checkbook link is the first non-anecdotal study that shows any non-trivial difference. I still think this is highly dependent on what you're buying. Will have to do some shopping this weekend. (I usually go to the Harris Teeter, which also has a reputation among die-hard Safeway goers as "very expensive". Presumably based on the fact that HT's produce isn't rotten before you get it home.)

by oboe on May 18, 2010 3:09 pm • linkreport

I think that Checkbook did a much more comprehensive job that comparing a few handpicked items. This sort of comparison is, actually, the rason d'etre of Washington Consumer Checkbook.

The other thing that's important to note (especially about some products, like O.J.) is that Safeway and Giant have a much greater selection that WF for most common items.

Maybe he picked Florida's Natural (which by the way I love) because they both sell it.

But any given day, Giant/Safeway will have one brand of premium (e.g. not from concentrate) orange juice on sale for $2.50 to $3.00 per half gallon.

Eric's "survey" should automatically not be trusted, because he set out to prove a premise: "My claim: That's BS! Their prices should be exactly the same." He chose products to make his point.

by Jamie on May 18, 2010 3:14 pm • linkreport

@Jamie, Great Post.

This whole argument has put the song "Common People" in my head

"I want to live like common people,
.....
Well what else could I do -
I said "I'll see what I can do."
I took her to a supermarket,
I don't know why but I had to start it somewhere,
so it started there.
I said pretend you've got no money,
she just laughed and said,
"Oh you're so funny."
I said "yeah?
Well I can't see anyone else smiling in here.
Are you sure you want to live like common people,
you want to see whatever common people see,
you want to sleep with common people,
you want to sleep with common people,
like me."

by ed on May 18, 2010 3:17 pm • linkreport

Again, at least these guys "show their work". Washington Checkbook has a nice set of graphs, but what is it they're actually buying?

http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/05_43/b3956109.htm

The other thing that's important to note (especially about some products, like O.J.) is that Safeway and Giant have a much greater selection that WF for most common items.

Gonna have to take issue with you here. I know what you're saying, but I'd argue that "greater selection [of] common items" is a bit of an oxymoron. I'd much rather have the option of a dozen different types of fruits than a half dozen different brands of OJ?

by oboe on May 18, 2010 3:20 pm • linkreport

@Jamie, its clear your opinion is that consuming large quantities of pop is not a health risk. Pop is targeted b/c of the large portion of total calories it occupies among kids. Those other things (debbie cakes, ho-ho's etc.) are consumed in proportions that are insignificant compared to pop. Thats why pop is singled out.

Regarding your opinion that pop consumption among kids in current quantities does not increase health risks- I would appeal to your open intelligence to find out more on the subject.

one citation among hundreds:Adults who drink soda occasionally (not every day) are 15% more likely to be overweight or obese, and adults who drink one or more sodas per day are 27% more likely to be overweight or obese than adults who do not drink soda, even when adjusting for poverty status and race/ethnicity. Babey, et al

Rates of alcoholism hhave remained relatively stable over decades and even drunk driving has decreased while obesity across age groups, income groups and ethnicites has increased dramatically, from 3-5% of the population in 1970 to 33% today. Thats why obesity is considered epidemic and a major public health concern whereas alcoholism is not considered epidemic, though of course it is always a public health concern.

but alcoholism doesn't loom on the horizon as a health problem that will bankrupt the country in the same way that obesity does if rates are not slowed down and decreased. DC has the distinction of the highest childhood obesity rates in the nation. The quality of life for kids with obesity is equivalent to that of kids with cancer. If we can prevent this condition it is the humane and kind thing to do.

by Bianchi on May 18, 2010 3:23 pm • linkreport

One more interesting observation, then I'm done hijacking the thread with grocery shopping:

The Undercover Economist wrote about this phenomenon in his book by the same name, pointing out that an identical basket of goods actually cost less at Whole Foods than it did at his local Safeway, but that a typical basket of goods cost more at Whole Foods. The reason is that the average shopper at a Safeway is more likely to opt for cheapo value brands and other inferior products, whereas shoppers at Whole Foods are more likely to go for premium stuff. In which case, it's really not so much about the store as it is about the shopper.

http://blog.robpitingolo.org/2009/09/whole-foods-price-myth.html

by oboe on May 18, 2010 3:23 pm • linkreport

@ed:

"tax and/or farm subsidy removal = higher food prices
higher food prices = higher grocery bills

higher grocery bills hit poorer families harder than regular families.

How is my logic, everyone? ;-)"

Not so great. Removing subsidies would also lower taxes for everyone.

But the idea is to remove subsidies for junk and HFCS, and provide them for fruits and vegetables which currently don't get anything.

More expensive junk + cheaper fruit and veg = healthier food for poorer families.

(Oh, and on the Whole Food front, my experience is that produce is WAY more expensive at WF, but prices on everything else - pasta, milk, processed foods, etc. - are comparable to those at Giant, with the caveat that there are some cheaper items WF doesn't carry but Giant does.)

by Erica on May 18, 2010 3:24 pm • linkreport

@oboe, I am definitely not arguing that Giant or Safeway do better for produce variety. But I think for most people, 25% or more on the bottom line is more important than that.

by Jamie on May 18, 2010 3:25 pm • linkreport

@Bianchi; welcome to the East coast. We call it "soda" now..

ANd please explain to me why gatorade isn't bad for you.....

by charlie on May 18, 2010 3:25 pm • linkreport

@Erica.

WAIT, no one said we would automatically have lower taxes!

AND you've Added the fruit/ veggie subsidy too!?

you've shifted the argument!

Darn shifty folks!

gotta keep my eyes on y'all!
:-)

by ed on May 18, 2010 3:29 pm • linkreport

@oboe - the Checkbook survey specifically addresses the store-brand issue. Look at the 2nd link. The difference is even greater with store-brand substitutions.

I don't know what that book you reference is or what his methodologies are, so I can't speak to it. However I have no reason to believe that the WCC survey isn't about as objective as one could ask for. They are a non-profit organization, they are well respected, and have no commercial ties or interests. They do not accept advertising and are entirely member supported. As such I think that makes their survey about the best objective comparison available.

The idea that "economies" should dictate similar prices does not make sense to me in this case. Whole Foods and Safeway/Giant do not target the same kind of consumer. People are willing to pay more for a better-looking store that offers premium products. You can't buy a thousand different kinds of imported cheese at Giant, or have a whole aisle of bulk grains. It doesn't violate any economic principles that they would charge more on average for similar items. Their customers are wealthier, and, while there is some overlap in the products they buy, don't buy the same things as Giant customers.

Let me put it as simply as possible. They don't sell Hellman's mayonnaise at Whole Foods.

by Jamie on May 18, 2010 3:35 pm • linkreport

Jamie, no one is saying Whole Foods shoppers don't tend to spend more and buy fancier stuff. But your initial contention was this:

"The people who love this tax are the same people who not only shop at Whole Foods, but don't even realize that it's actually much more expensive than Giant."

Let me set your mind at ease: when I buy fancy cheese at Whole Foods instead of cheapo Giant brand cheddar, I am fully aware that it is more expensive and that I have, alas, expensive tastes. BUT, I have also shopped at Whole Foods at the end of the month when I didn't have much money, and by sticking to basic items and taking full advantage of the bulk section, I was able to eat well for the same price I would have spent at Safeway while still avoiding growth hormones in my milk.

Just because they sell expensive things doesn't mean everyone who shops there is compelled to buy them. At Whole Foods, their marketing experts will push aged Gruyere. At Giant or Safeway, other marketing experts will push name brand cereal instead of store brand and Lunchables instead of making your kid a sandwich. I have seen a lot of high-priced items at Giant. The difference is that people are paying for the "convenience" factor rather than the organic factor.

Marketing is everywhere. The key to shopping on a budget is making a list and buying only what you need, at any store.

by Erica on May 18, 2010 3:51 pm • linkreport

ed, yes policies put into place during the Great Depression helped starving people obtain food and avoid mass starvation. It worked great. Now, On a national scale that threatens national scurity, we have mass malnutrition in another form. We need to change our approach.

I personally do not think a healthy diet should be out of reach or unobtainable for any American who strives for a healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately our current structure creates that reality. It can be changed just like it was in the 30's to meet a national problem. Where, when, how and what food we can purchase is highly regulated including that some are subsidized. These structures can be changed to make healthy diets achieveable for people that want to eat that way.

People with limited incomes don't buy unhealthy food because they're stupid. They make personal economic decisions that are right for them. Unfortunately choices are very restricted due to current federal, state, local policies affecting everything from artificially increased and decreased food item prices to zoning/tax codes that prevent or limit stores that sell good quality food from locating in certain areas. The whole system needs revamped.

by Bianchi on May 18, 2010 3:53 pm • linkreport

@charlie, I included gatorade and other drinks like that in my definition of pop up thread.

by Bianchi on May 18, 2010 3:59 pm • linkreport

You are avoiding the basic premise here. It may around the same price to buy certain premium-ish products like not-from-concentrate orange juice or organic milk at Safeway and Whole Foods.

But many people do not shop for those products, and the non-premium alternative is not available at Whole Foods. As many common brand-name products also are not.

The fact that you say you shop on a tight budget by "sticking to the bulk section" reinforces how different a consumer you are than the vast majority of consumers, particularly lower income ones. Most people do not buy bulk grains, or even know what to do with them.

I am making absolutely no argument about whether or not is might be possible for people who don't shop at WF to get better health and value from the products they sell there, by shopping as you do. But this is simply not reality right now.

Reality is, most people buy the chicken that's on sale at Safeway for $1.59 a pound, the orange juice that's on sale for $1.50 a half gallon, and the canned soup that's on sale for 5/$4.00.

Sure, these products are not as high quality as what you can get at WF. But by shopping for bargains, and not caring about organic, you can get out of the store and feed your family for half the price. Buying organic is, unfortunately, a luxury that has a very real price. You have to realize that some people just don't have that in their budget.

As I said, they don't even sell Hellman's mayo at WF.

by Jamie on May 18, 2010 4:00 pm • linkreport

Am I really the only one that has an issue with such a major tax being proposed without a single public hearing to vet the issues?

Is simply saying "it's for the children" really sufficient to be able to do an end-run around the legislative process where the public gets to have its say on a brand new tax that would have a direct impact on their lives?

Good grief!

Were a Councilmember using the exact same route to propose a new mandatory tax on bikes, the commentariat here would be apoplectic with rage about such a blatant violation of the normal legislative process.

Yet, because it makes us feel good to do something "for the children," all those pesky concepts about legislative process and due process go out the window.

Simply amazing.

by Fritz on May 18, 2010 4:01 pm • linkreport

Hey, if it's not for the kids, it's for the river.

After they realize that DC schoolchildren simply won't eat steamed kale and cauliflower, though, I suspect the revenue will be diverted to another use like the bag tax revenue.

Nothing like a good old fashioned bait and switch! But anyhoo, Mary knows best.

by Jamie on May 18, 2010 4:06 pm • linkreport

If you make a budget and then a list of meals and then a list of ingredients and then check that with your budget, you can eat and shop at any store in the country. But you have to be able and willing to not buy impulse items—whether candy bars or imported cheese. I’ve had people tell me they wont do this because it makes them feel poor (seriously).

When arguing on behalf of families that honestly cannot choose anything better than about to expire chicken at Safeway, remember that this country has a safety net and those families are likely, or should likely be, taking advantage of WIC. When I was in that situation a few years ago I was still able to feed my family home cooked meals with limited amounts of processed ingredients, it took time, but hey I had that and not money.

by Ward 2 on May 18, 2010 4:10 pm • linkreport

Is simply saying "it's for the children" really sufficient to be able to do an end-run around the legislative process where the public gets to have its say on a brand new tax that would have a direct impact on their lives?

Not sure which part of the "legislative process" is where "the public gets to have its say on a brand new tax". You know we live in a representative democracy, right? Not ancient Athens?

by oboe on May 18, 2010 4:10 pm • linkreport

Jamie, you prove my point - marketing and "nudge" techniques work! Many people also buy the Lunchables that are on sale, the brand name soda that is on sale, the pre-packaged pre-cut vegetables that are on sale... etc. All of these products are HORRIBLE value for money and better value alternatives are available in the same store, the same aisle. So the problem is often not that good healthy food is "not in the budget," it's that it's not marketed as aggressively and that people don't think before they buy. Also, as you say, many people don't know how to cook from scratch anymore.

These are less money problems than they are education problems. Which brings us full circle to the idea that the Council wants to use the soda tax revenue to educate children on healthy choices. Hopefully this would include teaching children to COOK again in public schools (when did home ec disappear?)

Although again - I do think this particular proposal is poorly designed.

by Erica on May 18, 2010 4:12 pm • linkreport

@Ward 2, Bravo! You set a good example for everyone.

Regardless of how the food at the grocery checkout is paid for we have a structure in our country that makes the least healthy choices the least expensive. That's the problem.

by Bianchi on May 18, 2010 4:20 pm • linkreport

agree with Erica re: education as an important factor.

by Bianchi on May 18, 2010 4:25 pm • linkreport

@oboe: Oh please.

Can you show me how, under the Rules of the Council of the District of Columbia, a new tax can be implemented without it being introduced as a separate bill or it having a hearing?

If Ms. Cheh were proposing a $100 registration tax on bicycles to fund a program "for the children" and she were using the budget to implement that tax, without a single hearing on that tax, are you - or anyone else here - seriously arguing that the commentariat wouldn't be in an uproar?

by Fritz on May 18, 2010 4:28 pm • linkreport

@Bianchi Solving the problem by taking money away from us and promising the Whole Foods/ organic food lifestyle?

Sounds nice, doesn't it?
(sing some Marvin Gaye if you're realy moved "When I look at the world, it fills me with sorrow. Children today really gonna suffer tomorrow...")

If it weren't the DC government (insert bag tax money diversion reference, government corruption, Marion Barry reference or two here...) and I felt that the money would be spent well.

and it didn't take away money from households and very potentially divert business from the district

it wasn't so huge and highly regressive

and we weren't in a recession

I would be ALL FOR IT.

In fact, can they buy me some fresh organic fruits and vegetables?? Please! I can't afford them, or organic anything... I buy rice, frozen bagged mixed veggies, coffee, milk, and sugar most of the time.

Can't they move down that potential tax list and try something else?
OR...Tax really cool hats-- That would stick it to Fenty!
He's so gosh darn dapper!

by ed on May 18, 2010 4:33 pm • linkreport

Sure they would. But you can be outraged for lots of reasons, good and bad. I guess I skipped your claim up-thread about the mechanics of the legislation. Are you actually saying the way Cheh is attaching this legislation to the overall budget is illegal? Or just that you'd prefer she do it differently?

Anyway, I wouldn't mind a $100 DC registration tax, since bicycle registration is no longer mandatory in DC. But I might pay it anyway, if it was for healthy school lunches, cause I'm a softy like that.

by oboe on May 18, 2010 4:42 pm • linkreport

The answer is obvious.

Tax soda and redistribute the money to DC's poorest residents in the form of Whole Foods coupons, along with an instruction book for soaking beans and making whole wheat bread from flour and yeast.

Problem solved!

I predict a big increase in beer sales at Whole Foods.

Seriously. I am all in favor of education. But how again does this tax educate anyone? All it does is educate them that it's less expensive to buy soda in Maryland and Virginia.

Having an ideal about how the world should work is one thing. That's just great. But you can't talk about life in DC like a couple college students playing Sim City.

The reality is that most poor people DO NOT have the first idea what to do with the grain aisle at WF. They probably haven't set foot in one before, because there isn't one within two miles of their home. Spend some time in someone else's shoes. See how regular people shop.

Stop thinking that just because your way is better for you, it' better for everyone. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't, but you can't wave your magic wand and change their way. Work to help people, great. But it's still their choice you know.

But back to the soda tax, what does that have to do with buying dried beans at Whole Foods?

by Jamie on May 18, 2010 4:45 pm • linkreport

Crap. Sorry, that was for Original Fritz.

by oboe on May 18, 2010 4:45 pm • linkreport

@Jamie
I think it had to do with you saying that it was the Whole Foods crowd that was supporting the soda tax.

by ed on May 18, 2010 4:53 pm • linkreport

"But back to the soda tax, what does that have to do with buying dried beans at Whole Foods?"

I dunno, you tell us - I was just responding to the sub-thread debate about the price of Whole Foods vs. Giant that you helped get going!

by Erica on May 18, 2010 4:56 pm • linkreport

Yeah, right. Well, isn't this tax about changing habits?

After the tax is instituted, all of DC will stop buying Rock Creek Pineapple Soda, and replace it with Vitamin Water. I assume that the next logical step is that sales of Doritos and ding-dongs will plummet, as bulk quinoa sales boom, through magic.

by Jamie on May 18, 2010 5:01 pm • linkreport

"Stop thinking that just because your way is better for you, it' better for everyone. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't, but you can't wave your magic wand and change their way. Work to help people, great. But it's still their choice you know."

Yes it is their choice. You are the one saying that adding 1 cent per ounce to the cost of a soft drink eliminates the option of drinking a soft drink. Everyone else says they have the choice to buy the soft drink, but that society will collect more than just the production cost of the drink because society will have to deal with the long term effects of people making that choice.

This policy, like many policies proposed by liberals, attempts to recapture some of the external costs of a good that can't be properly priced or collected by the seller. It is essentially the same concept as pricing carbon as put forth by Obama.

by Ward 2 on May 18, 2010 5:03 pm • linkreport

@Ward 2, so basically, in your ideal world, everyone would bear the exact costs that are potentially associated with their specific activities.

The thing about sugar, is that it's not inherently dangerous. Someone who is very active could consume massive amounts of it with very little risk, compared so someone who's inactive.

Anyway, I guess you don't believe in health insurance.

by Jamie on May 18, 2010 5:09 pm • linkreport

@Ward 2, so basically, in your ideal world, everyone would bear the exact costs that are potentially associated with their specific activities.

Or more succinctly, "in your ideal world, everyone would pick up their own trash."

by oboe on May 18, 2010 5:13 pm • linkreport

Jamie,

Diet and health is not as simple as calories in and calories out. And further, I made no absolute assertions about "exact cost". But in this case there is no collection of any costs right now. Any collection would be a move in the right direction and likely far below "the exact costs that are potentially associated with" drinking soda.

Can you not acknowledge that our society is getting more obese each year? Sure, soda is not the only source, soda has been targeted because it's the quickest lift and would have the greatest impact. It is because I am such an advocate of universal health care coverage that I see the debate this way. The more we can do to decrease, or at least decelerate the trend in obesity the lower the future costs will be.

by Ward 2 on May 18, 2010 5:33 pm • linkreport

It is essentially the same concept as pricing carbon as put forth by Obama.

No, more like taxing carbon emitted from, say, coal burning, but not all other fossil fuels. And then using the tax revenues to fund rainbows and unicorns in Canada.

The tax is targeted at one aspect of a much larger problem, and the revenues aren't being used to address the alleged costs of that problem, they're instead being directed towards something else. And that assumes that you could, in fact, actually address the problem with these revenues, which seems fairly unlikely given that the health effects are down the road and likely to be borne by someone other than the DC government in large part anyway (federal government, Florida, Arizona, pretty much anywhere else).

by ah on May 18, 2010 5:44 pm • linkreport

What Ward 2 said.
Even if we don't have universal health coverage reducing obesity will save everyone money 5, 10, 20 years from now. Included in the economics are not just health care costs but labor lost and all that encompasses including earning power and taxes paid out.

by Bianchi on May 18, 2010 5:45 pm • linkreport

The beverage industry agrees that obesity is a serious issue, but it is not caused by any one food or beverage. Importantly, according to a National Cancer Institute analysis of government data, sugar-sweetened beverages make up only 5.5 percent of calories taken in by Americans. That means that nearly 95 percent of calories come from other sources. So singling out one food or beverage for taxation wonÂ’t make a dent in this complex issue. ItÂ’s not even a good start.

Our industry is making a difference when it comes to healthy lifestyles. With the Clear on Calories initiative, America’s leading beverage companies have committed to clearly display the calories in all our beverages on the front of the can or bottle as well as on our vending and fountain machines – putting calorie information at your fingertips. And our School Beverage Guidelines have reduced beverage calories in schools by a dramatic 88 percent.

Taxes don’t teach healthy lifestyles – education, exercise and balanced diets do that. For more information, visit www.ameribev.org.

by AmericanBeverage on May 18, 2010 6:22 pm • linkreport

Soda and other high-sugar beverages are the contributing causes of America's obesity epidemic and result in billions in health care expenditures. The plastic has been linked to cancer and impotency and litters our waterways. Sodas and other bottled beverages have absolutely no positive effect on American health or cultural well being and should be taxed to pay for healthy school lunches and environmental restoration.

by Cyrus on May 18, 2010 6:52 pm • linkreport

See ameribev says it's a bad idea! They totally have my best interest at heart. Hey, did you know that BP stands for "Beyond Petroleum"? I see their cool ads on teevee all the time...

by Ward 2 on May 18, 2010 6:57 pm • linkreport

@ AmBev, Funny that analysis of NHANES data (national health and nutrition examination survey) shows children and adolescents aged 2-19 get 10-15% of total calories from sugar sweetened drinks (with fruit juice contributing a minor portion of that). see Wang YC, Bleich SN, Gortmaker SL. Can you cite your stats please?

by Bianchi on May 18, 2010 7:04 pm • linkreport

@Cyrus, yep!

by Bianchi on May 18, 2010 7:07 pm • linkreport

CNBC is running a show this evening on the costs of obesity in the United States. Very topical given this discussion.

by Andrew on May 18, 2010 7:45 pm • linkreport

@ AmBev, i'll give it to you, though I think 5% is an underestimate, lets say the average kid gets 5% of his/her total calories from sugar sweetened drinks.

The average 10 year old requires ~2000 calories/day. 5% of that=100 calories. That translates to ~one serving of pop/day. This level of pop consumption increases odds for obesity in children by 1.6%

One reason for the increased odds is because when extra calories are consumed as a liquid there is little to no compensation by consuming fewer calories at the next meal as happens when solid food is eaten. Thus drinking pop adds to extra calorie consumption in a way that eating little debbie cakes doesn't.

Soft drinks constitute the leading source of added sugar in kids' diets.

http://epsl.asu.edu/ceru/Documents/lancet.pdf
http://www.adajournal.org/article/S0002-8223%2800%2900018-3/abstract

by Bianchi on May 18, 2010 8:30 pm • linkreport

please stop using the term "pop"
It screams Pittsburgh.

by spookiness on May 18, 2010 8:32 pm • linkreport

Here's the basis for the recommendation of the 1c./1oz tax on sweetened beverages.
http://www.newsroom.heart.org/index.php?s=43&item=976

by Bianchi on May 18, 2010 8:49 pm • linkreport

After reading through all these posts, one thing comes to mind.

Bring back Home Ec.

by spookiness on May 18, 2010 9:06 pm • linkreport

Yeah, because clearly I am a healthy, fit, average weight Washingtonian because I learned to bake brownies in home ec.

Thank god back in the day they taxed soda like crazy so I didn't drink it.

by charlie on May 18, 2010 9:26 pm • linkreport

And then using the tax revenues to fund rainbows and unicorns in Canada.

And there, ladies and gentlemen, you have it. The opposition in a nutshell: funding a marginal increase in school breakfasts and lunches so they're not absolutely killing our kids is the equivalent of "rainbows and unicorns."

Meanwhile, here's what we're feeding our kids: http://fedupwithschoollunch.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2010-05-14T21:00:00-05:00&max-results=7

Jesus, what a nation of numbskulls we have become.

by oboe on May 18, 2010 10:28 pm • linkreport

@Oboe, I don't know about you, but my meals were always provided by my parents. If a parent chooses to provide their kid with lunch money to buy their meal rather than pack one from home, shouldn't you be chastising that parent rather than the taxpayer if the meal they're buying isn't up to your standards? I'm still trying to figure out why I as a taxpayer am expected to pay for other people's kids meals (or educations) in the first place. Wasn't having a kid their choice?

by Lance on May 18, 2010 10:59 pm • linkreport

What ever happen to your self responsibility; take care of your self.

If you drink soda, water, beer, wine whatever else its your decision.

And you know the outcome of the situation weight gain, death, drunkenness etc

The government should not be regulating what people deem fit by taxes It is a person choice.

If a parent says their children can have soda so be it.

If a adult wants to have a soda they should not be taxed because of someones fat kid.

Obesity is caused by

1 people eating crap they should not be
2 people eating to damn much

both of which are your own decision

the public should not be effected for some persons decicion to eat some fat food.

If this is truly about keeping people healthy than

Everything in Safeway, Wholefoods, Giant should be taxed except organic products which are the offspring or a organ of a plant and is used for eating.

All medicines & hair products that have high percent of synthetic or genetically engineered material

Anything that has petroleum in it ( vaseline, any medicine with a plastic coating, plastic)

Any thing that has ever been in contact with a Monsanto seed or is made by a Monsanto company.

by kk on May 19, 2010 12:09 am • linkreport

@kk, three phrases: "gene environment interaction"; "built environment and health" and "food environment".

https://riskfactor.cancer.gov/mfe/
http://www.ashg.org/pdf/CDC%20Gene-Environment%20Interaction%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf
http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/publications/factsheets/ImpactoftheBuiltEnvironmentonHealth.pdf

by Bianchi on May 19, 2010 9:26 am • linkreport

"I'm still trying to figure out why I as a taxpayer am expected to pay for other people's kids meals (or educations) in the first place."

Because in a democracy, having an educated voting populace provides a public benefit via more informed decisions. In a system where most people participate in a health insurance plan, having a healthier populace also provides a public benefit.

The marginal cost of providing better school lunches pales in comparison to the cost of funding lifelong diabetes treatment. Unless you live on a fortress island, you're going to end up paying one way or another.

by Erica on May 19, 2010 11:02 am • linkreport

The only connection between the soda tax and the healthy school lunch program is that it is a funding mechanism.

by ah on May 19, 2010 11:08 am • linkreport

@ Erica

Where not a democracy no country is they don't work out very well : see Rome, we are a republic

by kk on May 19, 2010 12:07 pm • linkreport

@ah, funding the program is not the only connection: there is an estimate that a 1c./1oz tax will reduce softdrink consumption by 10% with the caveate any implementation should be studied for results. There is a direct connection between sweetened soft drink consumption and obesity.

There ore the tax is twofold in application; to reduce consumption and thereby act as an intervention and to fund the larger intervention integrated within the school system.

by Bianchi on May 19, 2010 1:26 pm • linkreport

@kk,

Very informative. Also, we don't know if Erica *can* go to the bathroom, but she *may* go to the bathroom. Also, she doesn't do "good". Superman does good. She does "well."

Now that the day's exercise in middle-school pedantry is over, the larger point stands: we've made the decision to educate our young citizens because we've found that an uneducated population makes for a crappy republic when the republic is constituted via representative democracy.

And we provide these students with a decent meal because we found that many of these students were too hungry and malnourished to learn anything, subverting the previous goal.

You and Lance (and others) can disagree with those decisions--decisions that were made a long time ago, and for most Americans are relatively non-controversial--but let's drop the pretense of not understanding it.

by oboe on May 19, 2010 3:10 pm • linkreport

I am principally opposed to taxes that target one single item, as well as taxes that a specially collected to one single goal. The soda tax does both.

If DC wants to stimulate eating well, it should target (and define) all bad food (why soda, and not chips?). And if DC needs more money, it needs to raise taxes across the board, and not single out one single item.

And if DC really wants to make a point, it would ban all food with HFCS. NY banned trans-fats and that worked out ok, despite heavy opposition from industry. Industry will adapt as long as there's money to be made. And you wanna bet that if DC is HFCS-free, suddenly supermarkets in Arlington and Bethesda will notice that their HFCS products will be sold less?

by Jasper on May 19, 2010 8:45 pm • linkreport

I am principally opposed to taxes that target one single item, as well as taxes that a specially collected to one single goal. The soda tax does both....[I]f DC needs more money, it needs to raise taxes across the board, and not single out one single item.

Right, but why? is this an aesthetic concern, or is there some larger objection?

by oboe on May 19, 2010 11:04 pm • linkreport

This proposed tax does nothing more than trample on the individual rights of the citizens of D.C. Who is the Government step in and tell the public what it can't and cannot do. I am SO tired of Government intrusion. The Government doesn't have the right on any level to tax its citizens like this.

Let Government's focus stay where it should be: on roads & public safety.

by LeeHinAlexandria on May 22, 2010 6:25 am • linkreport

In Washington DC, soda tax proponents were defeated by their own tactic: sugar pushers stopped the bill "for the sake of the children."

See:

http://notionscapital.wordpress.com/2010/05/24/jock-juice-kills-soda-tax-bill/

by Mike Licht on May 24, 2010 10:08 am • linkreport

My wIfe and I were shopping at the Georgetown Safeway. Someone asked us to sign on to the call to oppose the DC beverage tax, so I assume this is back on the legislative agenda. We refused to support the no beverage tax people and we will do our best to boycott all the merchants involved until we pass a beverage tax. It's very unfortunate that Yes Organic Market, where we buy a lot of bulk goods, is on this. I think merchants will be hurt less than they think, and in any case sometimes one must put profit aside to address a public health emergency.

by Weiwen Ng on Apr 3, 2011 10:44 pm • linkreport

Add a Comment

Name: (will be displayed on the comments page)

Email: (must be your real address, but will be kept private)

URL: (optional, will be displayed)

Your comment:

By submitting a comment, you agree to abide by our comment policy.
Notify me of followup comments via email. (You can also subscribe without commenting.)
Save my name and email address on this computer so I don't have to enter it next time, and so I don't have to answer the anti-spam map challenge question in the future.

or