Sweet Victory for Sugary Beverage Taxes

By Terri Livermore, Director of Community Partnerships

i-votedIt certainly has been an interesting week for US politics that has left the US with a great deal to think about. At LiveWell Colorado, we are focused on the resounding victory in Boulder of ordinance 2H which will create an excise tax on distributors of sugar sweetened beverages (SSBs). Limiting consumption of SSBs is an important factor in halting the growing global health problem of rising obesity. Sugar sweetened beverages have been identified as a contributing factor in childhood obesity, weight gain and obesity in adults, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Last night, perhaps lost in the bigger election results, but in what may portend the beginning of a movement, four cities passed taxes on sugar sweetened beverages. Boulder represented Colorado’s initial efforts to address this issue, while three California cities, San Francisco, Albany and Oakland, also passed taxes on SSBs. In California, the three cities added a one cent per ounce tax on SSBs, which they defined as beverages with an added calorie sweetener that has more than 25 calories in 12 ounces of liquid. Colorado, always bold, went bigger with a two cent per ounce tax on beverages with at least 5 grams of an added calorie sweetener in 12 fluid ounces. These cities join Berkeley, California and Philadelphia who enacted the SSB taxes in 2014 and the spring of 2016, respectively.

Congratulations to Healthy Boulder Kids, Healthier Colorado, and the other entities involved in waging a successful campaign against the well-funded beverage industry and putting another piece into place to help Colorado address childhood and adult obesity. We look forward to continuing to work with our many partners to build on the momentum gained from this important victory.

A final note: LiveWell Colorado also supported the tax on tobacco (Amendment 72). That statewide tax did not pass last night, which is perhaps not so surprising when one learns that the tobacco industry spent over $17 million to defeat that measure!