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Beverage tax: Connecticut may be home to the first statewide beverage tax in the U.S. News 

Beverage tax: Connecticut may be home to the first statewide beverage tax in the U.S.

Beverage tax: Connecticut may be home to the first statewide beverage tax in the U.S.

Beverage taxes are bubbling up from the local to the state level.

Connecticut may become the first state in the country to tax sugar-sweetened beverages if Gov. Ned Lamont has his way.

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He’s proposed a 1.5-percent-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks, which he expects will generate $163.1 million for the Nutmeg State in fiscal 2021, which begins the preceding July,  He says it will also help residents become healthier.

Several municipalities across the U.S. have put similar taxes in place, including Seattle; Philadelphia; San Francisco; and Boulder, Colorado.

Such taxes are not necessarily shoe-ins. The one in Cook County, Illinois, which includes Chicago, was repealed in 2017.

“The governor believes that in addition to addressing our long-term fiscal stability, the budget should also help outline policy priorities for our state,” Lamont’s spokeswoman Maribel La Luz said in an e-mail, adding that proposals, like this tax, are meant to discourage unhealthy behaviors.

She said Connecticut currently meets or exceeds many national health targets, but can do more to tackle chronic conditions, such as heart disease and cancer, which have become leading causes of death in the state and contribute to rising health care costs. Obesity affects 26.9 percent of adults in Connecticut and more so among minority groups.

What makes this first-ever statewide effort significant is it reduces the likelihood of consumers going to neighboring areas to avoid the tax — what experts call leakage. While it’d be easy to go from a taxed city to a nearby suburb, leaving a state is a hassle.

“With a larger geographic scope of the policy, you have less opportunity for people to cross the border to do their beverage shopping,” said Shu Wen Ng, a health economist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “For both health implications and revenue generating, a state level or larger geographical scope would be more meaningful.”

More than three dozen countries and territories around the globe have instituted sugar-sweetened beverage taxes, she added. Among them are Mexico, France, Norway, Estonia, Saudi Arabia, Bermuda, Thailand, South Africa, Fiji and the Philippines.

Americas Europe Africa, Eastern Mediterranean and Southeast Asia Western Pacific
Barbados Belgium Bahrain Brunei
Bermuda Estonia India Cook Islands
Chile France Malaysia (passed) Fiji
Columbia Finland Maldives French Polynesia
Dominica Hungary Mauritius Kiribati
Mexico Ireland Saudi Arabia Nauru
Panama (passed) Latvia South Africa Palau
Peru Morocco Sri Lanka Philippines
Norway Thailand Samoa
Portugal United Arab Emirates Tonga
St. Helena Vanuatu
United Kingdom

“Beverage taxes prompt consumers to shop across the border and when they do, they’ll take care of their entire grocery list out of state, costing local grocery stores their sales, and employees their jobs,” said William Dermody Jr., a spokesman for the American Beverage Association, which represents non-alcoholic beverage companies.

He called the taxes “unproductive” and said manufacturers can help consumers reduce the amount of sugar they get from beverages by creating more drinks with less or no sugar and making smaller-size bottles and cans.

The University of California Berkeley last week released a study on the effectiveness of sugar-sweetened beverage taxes. Berkeley was the first municipality in the U.S. to put such a tax in place.

Researchers found that between 2015, when the tax took effect, and 2018, residents in Berkeley’s diverse and low-income neighborhoods reported drinking 52 percent fewer servings of sugary beverages than they did before the tax passed in November 2014. In addition, water consumption jumped 29 percent during those three years.

Kristine Madsen, faculty director of the Berkeley Food Institute at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health, said the residents’ changed behavior could be due to not only the tax, but also the message the tax sends to city residents.

“There are some earlier studies out of Berkeley that suggest that the messaging alone is effective at reducing consumption,” she said. “But people are still very much affected by what hits their pocketbooks.”

Soda has been linked to obesity, a significant problem in the U.S.

Close to 40 percent of adults and 18.5 percent of youngsters are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Last week, California Assemblyman Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica, proposed a sugar-sweetened beverage tax for the third year in a row, but the previous two years, it died in committee.

In June, California passed a law prohibiting municipalities from passing such taxes.

Source:- usatoday
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