Federal Excise Tax on Sugar in Soda Proposed

Rep. DeLauro's SWEET Act Would Raise About $10 Billion for Prevention Programs


The Center for Science in the Public Interest and other health groups today announced their support of federal legislation that would tax the sugars in soda and other sugar drinks. Aimed at preventing diabetes, heart disease, obesity, tooth decay, and other soda-related diseases, the bill, introduced today by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), would levy an excise tax of one cent per 4.2 grams—one teaspoon—of caloric sweetener. That would raise the price of a 12-ounce can of Coca-Cola by about 10 cents—enough to put a modest dent in consumption, says CSPI, but also enough to raise on the order of $10 billion a year for diet-related disease prevention programs.

The bill is the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Tax Act of 2014, or the SWEET Act.

"The SWEET Act represents a bold federal effort to counter the soda industry's relentless and greedy marketing campaigns that promote tooth decay, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity," said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson. "Passage of this legislation would provide the resources necessary for greatly reducing rates of obesity and other soda-related health problems."

Groups such as the American Heart Association, American Public Health Association, Latino Coalition for Healthy California, Public Health Institute, and the National Alliance for Hispanic Health also announced their support of the SWEET Act today.

More than half the states already have small sales taxes on soda. CSPI and other health groups have been calling for larger excise taxes, typically on the order of a penny per ounce. In November, residents of San Francisco will vote on a ballot question calling for a two-cent-per-ounce tax on soda and other sugar drinks, and Berkeley, Calif., will vote on a proposed one-cent-per-ounce tax. In Mexico, a peso-per-liter tax on sugar drinks is credited with causing an immediate five percent drop in soda consumption in that country.

"States and local governments need money to help prevent and treat soda-related diseases, and we hope this federal effort inspires more jurisdictions to adopt similar measures," Jacobson said.

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