National Consumers League

A SWEET Act that will improve the nation’s health


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July 30, 2014

Contact: Ben Klein, National Consumers League, benk@nclnet.org, (202) 835-3323

Washington, DC – The National Consumers League (NCL), the nation’s pioneering consumer advocacy group, supports the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Tax Act of 2014 (SWEET Act), introduced today by Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro (D-CT). The bill has two original cosponsors Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA). This groundbreaking measure will levy a one cent tax per every teaspoon (4.2 grams) of caloric sweetener (sugar, high fructose corn syrup, etc.) on most sweetened beverages.

A tax on sweetened drinks has proven to be an effective strategy for reducing consumption. A 2014 study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that a .04 cent per-calorie tax on sweetened beverages would reduce annual per person consumption by 5,800 calories. Sales data collected from supermarkets across New York State found that this  .04 cent tax reduced consumption of beverage calories by 9.3 percent.

“A soda tax on sweetened beverages is one way to reduce consumption and direct tax funding toward education and prevention of obesity,” said Sally Greenberg, executive director of the National Consumers League. “Incentivizing consumers to make smart purchasing decisions will help reduce consumption of soda and other drinks that are bereft of any nutritional value. With skyrocketing obesity rates among adults and children, these conditions and their ancillary health consequences place a tremendous burden on our healthcare system.”

The national obesity rate now stands at 34.9 percent of adults and 17 percent of children. Communities of color have disproportionately higher rates of obesity with 47.8 percent of adult African Americans being obese and 42.5 percent of adult Hispanics being obese. High rates of obesity lead to diabetes, heart disease, and other health issues which cost our healthcare system an estimated $190 billion every year.

Revenue collected from the new SWEET Act tax would be provided to the Prevention and Public Health Fund to support initiatives aimed at reducing rates of obesity and decreasing healthcare expenses from weight-related medical issues. 

In November, San Francisco, CA and Berkeley, CA will vote on imposing taxes on sweetened beverages. In Mexico, a tax on soda was enacted in January 2014 that imposes a one peso per liter tax on sweetened drinks, increasing the cost of a two-liter soda by about 10 percent. 

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About the National Consumers League 
The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Its mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.