Close to 20 states or cities in the U.S. are considering the possibility of a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. Organizations that have called for reductions in sugar-sweetened beverage consumption include the World Health Organization, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Heart Association, Institute of Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The beverage industry, however, has been flexing its economic and political might in ways reminiscent of the tobacco industry during the 1950s. The arguments they are making are the same as the ones that were made on behalf of cigarettes decades ago — that the taxes are “discriminatory” in singling out one category of food, that taxes will not work, and that government should not tell people what to do.
According to Time Magazine:
“Similar to tobacco companies, the soda industry has created a front group, Americans Against Food Taxes, to run anti-tax campaigns … The tobacco industry paid scientists who did research disputing links between smoking and lung cancer, the addictive nature of nicotine, and the dangers of second-hand smoke. The soda industry funds scientists who reliably produce research showing no link between [sugar-sweetened beverage] consumption and health … The beverage industry has been successful thus far in fighting off significant taxes through heavy lobbing, questionable tactics, and the attempt to appear public-health minded, but they, too, are likely to be embarrassed as light shines upon them.”