New York Soda Tax: Dead on Arrival

Almost two months ago, New York Governor David Paterson enthusiastically proposed an 18 percent tax on sugary drinks. Right off the bat, he unleashed a team to drive home the message. First Lady Paterson toured the state, arguing that soda is fattening children. State Health Commissioner Dr. Richard Daines even made a dorky YouTube video to make the case. Gov. Paterson then tried to advance his measure in his State of the State address. Now he’s realizing there’s just one little thing blocking his plan: democracy.
“I don’t think the legislature will pass it," Paterson told students at Morrisville State College. No kidding.
New Yorkers hate the idea. And a recent Rasmussen poll shows that only 18 percent of Americans would support it. That’s the same percentage of Americans, by the way, who believe the sun revolves around the Earth.
Now Paterson claims his point wasn’t really to have a new soda tax. The Associated Press reports that “Paterson said his point was to increase awareness for the high caloric content of foods consumed by children, who unlike adults aren’t in a position to make their own choices.”
Ah, the old think-of-the-children-and-raise-awareness routine. Good news, governor: Soda isn’t fattening our children.  A 2005 study published in the journal Risk Analysis found no relationship between regular soft drink consumption and body-mass index. And a large review published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found “virtually no association between sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and weight gain in children and teens.” (For more like these, see our report, “ Why Soda Bans Don’t Fight Childhood Obesity.”)
On the other hand, there is plenty of evidence demonstrating that New Yorkers should be moving more. As state-by-state statistics show, there is an undeniable relationship between physical inactivity and higher obesity rates.
But at least Paterson isn’t trying to tax gym memberships. Oh wait…

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