If we start taxing soda, who’s to say that won’t lead to taxing other items? Isn’t this really a grocery tax?
Isn’t this ordinance a regressive tax, meaning it takes a larger percentage of income from low-income earners than from high-income earners?
The Boulder ballot measure 2H will fund health programs within the city to improve nutrition and physical activity, especially among low-income residents. It enacts a two cents per ounce excise on soda and other sugary drinks sold in the City of Boulder.
A: Healthy Boulder Kids is a volunteer, citizen-led coalition focused on funding health programs in the city of Boulder to improve nutrition and physical activity for all of our residents. The grassroots campaign includes community members, local organizations and elected officials.
A: A broad base of Boulder citizens, organizations and elected leaders are joining together to support our efforts to help Boulder Kids. 2H is supported by the American Heart Association, the Boulder County Board of Commissioners, the Boulder County Democratic Party, the Early Childhood Council of Boulder County, Boulder Latino Task Force, Healthier Colorado, the Latino Chamber of Commerce, and YWCA of Boulder, among many others. For a recent list of Boulder community members, businesses, elected officials and organizations that support the initiative visit our Endorsements page.
A: The ballot measure calls for the tax to be applied to drinks that contain at least 5 grams of added sweeteners (such as sugar and high fructose corn syrup) per 12 fluid ounces. It does not include milk products, baby formula, drinks taken for medical reasons or alcohol. It also does not apply to 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice products.
2H is focused on high-sugar, low-nutrition drinks. Diet soda is exempt because it does not have added sugar, the subject of this tax. Alcohol is exempt because it is already taxed.
The tax from 2H applies only to those drinks that contain at least 5 grams of added sweeteners, such as sugar or high fructose corn syrup, per 12 fluid ounces. Both bottled drinks and fountain drinks are included. So, products including a can of Coca-Cola, sweetened “juices” like Capri Sun, and a fountain drink you’d buy at an eatery would be included.
Within 2H, there are exemptions for milk products, baby formula, drinks taken for medical reasons, and alcohol. These beverages were excluded as they can provide nutritional or medical value or, in the case of alcohol, are already subject to additional tax. The tax would also not apply to 100% fruit or vegetable juice, as no sugar is added into those products.
A: We have a huge responsibility to our children to ensure they have every opportunity to lead healthy lives. In the last 20 years, Boulder County’s obesity rate has doubled. The current generation of children is already the most overweight generation of Americans, and one-third of all children are predicted to get preventable Type 2 diabetes in their lifetime. Today’s children are the first generation of Americans expected to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. Studies have shown that taxes on unhealthy sugary drinks can reduce soda consumption and bring down the obesity rate.
A: Soda and other unhealthy sugary drinks are the number one source of added sugar in the American diet, and there is a direct connection between them and obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
The facts on sugary drink consumption and diabetes are striking:
- A 20 ounce bottle of soda is equivalent to 22 packets of sugar.
- Drinking even one sugary drink a day significantly increases the risk of Type 2 diabetes.
- Liquid sugar affects the body in a unique way that increases the risk for diabetes more than sugar in food.
- Beverage companies spend hundreds of millions annually marketing directly to youth, bypassing parents, and marketing more heavily to youth of color.
- 40% of all children will develop Type 2 diabetes in their lifetimes. The prediction is worse for African American and Latino children – it’s 1 in 2.
A: This is not a tax on consumers or retailers. It is a two-cent per ounce excise tax on distributors of soda and other unhealthy sugary drinks.
A: No. This is not a tax on local retailers or businesses. This is a tax on distributors, the handful of companies that contract with beverage makers to distribute their products in the city of Boulder. Retailers’ and local businesses’ only responsibility is to keep buying from their distributor of choice, who will pay the tax.
A: Funds will create opportunities for healthy food and fitness within the city – especially for low-income residents most impacted by unhealthy sugary drinks. The revenue will be used for important programs like healthier food in schools, initiatives to prevent diabetes and other chronic diseases, and education campaigns about sugary drinks and healthy eating. Low-income communities disproportionately affected by health conditions caused by sugary drinks will be a priority target of these programs.
A: The ballot measure includes language that requires the city to publish an annual report detailing how the tax collections were used. Plus, the Healthy Boulder Kids coalition will be hands-on to ensure that the money is making an impact on the health of all our kids.
A: The opposition to 2H is being funded and directed by the American Beverage Association, the trade group funded by and representing “Big Soda” companies. The soda industry clearly stands to lose significant amounts of money if communities like ours continue the trend of purchasing less of their product. Big Soda is using the same tactics to try and defeat this measure that they have used in other communities, such as Berkeley, Calif. They tried inventing legal arguments to confuse and delay the measure being added to the Boulder ballot, and when that didn’t work, they resorted to disseminating misinformation.
A: Boulder is one of several communities in the country taking proactive steps to improve community health. Berkeley, Calif., passed a similar measure in 2014, which has thus far led to a 21 percent drop in soda consumption and a 63 percent jump in water consumption. Philadelphia also passed a similar measure, and San Francisco, Oakland and Albany, Calif., have it on the ballot this year.
Q: If we start taxing soda, who’s to say that won’t lead to taxing other items? Isn’t this really a grocery tax?
A: This is the primary argument of the opponents, and it is misleading. The focus of this campaign is unhealthy sugary drinks, and promoting healthy choices for our community, particularly our kids. On Sept. 2, 2016, an Alameda County, Calif., court ruled against the soda companies, writing that the soda tax is in fact only a tax on soda, not a tax on groceries as the American Beverage Association is portraying it.
Q: Isn’t this ordinance a regressive tax, meaning it takes a larger percentage of income from low-income earners than from high-income earners?
A: The tax is not regressive. As the editorial in the Daily Camera accurately states, “The purpose of the tax is to provide an incentive for lower-income households not to buy sugary drinks. The tax takes more money out of their pockets only if they continue to buy soda at the same rate as before, which the early studies in Mexico and Berkeley indicate they do not.” These families have more to save as they suffer more of the health impact of diabetes and obesity.
As mentioned earlier, helping these same families will be a priority for the use of funds raised by 2H.
A: In Boulder, we believe every resident deserves an equal chance to be healthy, and that our kids should not be targeted by corporate interests like Big Soda. If the soda industry cared about the well-being of people with limited incomes, they would stop targeting them with aggressive marketing. This tax is charged to the industry that profits off of drinks that promote diabetes and obesity, diseases that disproportionately affect people with limited incomes and communities of color.
Boulder groups like Intercambio de Comunidades, Latino Task Force of Boulder County, Clinica Family Health Services and the Boulder County Latino Chamber of Commerce have been involved in the development of 2H from the beginning and strongly endorse it.