Health Advocates say Soda Tax Would Benefit Latinos in California, But Bill Fails to Pass


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In an effort to curb sugary drink consumption and generate revenue for health promotion activities, law makers and health advocates in California are pushing for a tax on sugar-sweetened kid pizza and soda

Introduced by State Assembly Member Richard Bloom and backed by the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California (LCHC), among others, the bill would place a 2-cent-per-ounce health impact excise fee on sugary drinks. The tax is expected to generate an estimated $3 billion a year. The revenue would be used to create the “Children’s and Family Health Promotion Program” to prevent and treat obesity, diabetes, heart and dental disease.

“Sugar sweetened beverages are causing Californians to become overweight and have led to an epidemic of diabetes,” said Assembly Member Bloom. “The beverage industry is marketing larger sized bottles and fountain drinks. They are using larger and larger cups especially when marketing to children. There are zero health benefits to drinking such a beverage and public health experts agree that a reduction in consumption is imperative. My bill aims to do just that.”

The issue is especially relevant to Latinos in California. Latino kids drink on average one more soda per day than their white peers. Xavier Morales, Executive Director of LCHC, hopes this bill will help the Latino community get back on a healthy path.

“We are tired of burying our family members from Type 2 diabetes,” Morales said. “It is a tragedy that this disease is so prevalent in our community that many Latinos now believe that getting diabetes is normal. The revenue from AB 1357 will establish a long overdue, sustained funding source for diabetes prevention in California, prioritizing communities with the highest diabetes rates.”

LCHC has come together with other groups, like the American Heart Association, the California Rural Indian Health Board, Public Health Institute and others, to form a statewide coalition to advocate for the bill.

The American Heart Association and LCHC are hosting a press conference about the bill on Monday, May 4 at 11:00 a.m. For more information, click here.

Read more about the coalition and the proposed bill here.

5/14/15 Update: Despite efforts from health advocates in California and beyond, the bill that would have raised funds for obesity prevention by placing an extra fee on sugary drinks failed to pass through the Health Committee. It garnered only six votes in the 19-member committee. Despite the defeat, health advocates have promised to continue to push for measures that would reduce sugar consumption, a factor they say is responsible for illnesses like diabetes.

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