Rep. DeLauro: Fight ‘Big Soda’ and tax each teaspoon of sugar

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( — Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) is praising Philadelphia for approving a tax on soda and urging federal lawmakers to take similar action.

“Despite extensive lobbying efforts by big-soda, which employed tactics similar to those of big-tobacco, Philadelphians and their health won,” DeLauro said in a press release.

“Congress should follow Philadelphia’s lead and enact the SWEET Act, which would reduce the human and economic costs of health conditions related to these beverages.”

Philadelphia’s City Council recently approved a 1.5 cent-per-ounce tax on sugary and diet beverages to take effect Jan. 1.

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If the cost is entirely passed on to consumers, the cost of a 12-ounce can of soda goes up 18 cents. According to the Associated Press, a six-pack of 16-ounce bottles increases $1.44.

DeLauro’s SWEET Act would institute a federal tax of 1 cent per teaspoon of caloric sweetener, such as sugar or high-fructose corn syrup.

“This Act is intended to discourage excessive consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages by increasing the price of these products and by creating a dedicated revenue source for programs and research designed to reduce the human and economic costs of diabetes, obesity, dental caries, and other diet-related health conditions in priority populations,” the measure says.

DeLauro had discussed the proposal while she was crafting it.

During a video presentation for The National Soda Summit in 2014 DeLauro said, “It is long past time that we pass and support policies that work to our better health instead. With that in mind I’m working on legislation right now to tax sugar-sweetened drinks, like sodas, in a way that reflects the serious damage they are doing to our health.”

The SWEET Act was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee in 2015.

— Written by Eric Scheiner