THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING
PLAN TO TAX SODA: FIZZ OR FIZZLE?

Sales levy is a fair first step, but excise tax would be better

May 18, 2011

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RE PEPSICO point of view: CEO says tax on soda is wrong way to tackle childhood obesity’’ (Business, May 14) and “Poll finds support for soda tax’’ (Page A1, May 11): The tax change contemplated for Massachusetts is not a new tax on sugary drinks, but rather a repeal of the current food exemption from the state sales tax for sugary drinks. A number of states do not apply their food exemption to sugary drinks and candy.

Indeed, the continued lack of appropriate price signals to consumers to reflect portion size and calorie content — for example, McDonald’s promotion of any size soft drink for a dollar — should be remedied by a per ounce excise tax on sugary drinks. As an initial response to the public health threat posed by over-consumption of sugary drinks, a repeal of the Massachusetts sales tax exemption is a logical, reasonable, and fair first step.

Cara Wilking
Staff attorney
Public Health Advocacy Institute
Boston