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Sweet Tooth? Tax For Sugar Sweetened Drinks Proposed

By Brandon Schafer
On July 16, 2009

  • Jerry Shook buys a Mountain Dew at Catamount Exxon on Thursday, July 9. The Tax on sugar sweetened drinks may rise in the future. Danielle Lightner

According to statistics, the United States makes up only 5% of the world's population and yet one-third of the world's soda consumption. The Senate Finance Committee is banking on Americans' love of soda to help pay for a revamp of the nation's health care, and is pushing for a tax on sugar-sweetened drinks.

The Senate Finance Committee has proposed a tax per 12 ounces of sugar-sweetened drinks. The tax would include sodas, iced teas and coffees, energy and sports drinks, fruit and vegetable drinks, and flavored milks. Some exceptions would be made, like in diet sodas.

It is estimated that $50 billioncould be raised in the next decade with only a three cent tax. When packaged with a proposed alcohol tax, the measure could help raise $110 billion towards the $1.5 trillion health care revamp.

One of the hopeful side-effects generated by the tax would be a decrease in unhealthy soda consumption. Some recent studies have suggested that there is a strong link between soda consumption and obesity. However, when asked if a tax on sugar-sweetened drinks would change his drinking habits, student Sam Clinton remarked "Probably not. I'm addicted to soda and trying to quit, but I won't quit for that reason."

Students like Clinton should be happy to learn that Senior Food Service Director Todd Littrell does not believe such a tax would affect the prices on campus.

Littrell claims that, "This is a federal tax and not a NC tax. The students [should] not be affected at all."

Littrell adds that the amount is "miniscule in the scheme of things" and that the tax should be "absorbed by ARAMARK and Pepsi and not passed on to students."

At the moment, the Senate Finance Committee's sugar-sweetened drink tax proposal is only that: a proposal. However, should it be passed into law, students can expect little to no change in the price they pay on campus for drinks according to campus retailers.


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