NEW YORK — Gov. David Paterson is pushing for 1-cent-per-ounce increase in the cost of soft drinks to curb obesity and help the state compensate for the estimated $7.6 billion it spends on diabetes and other obesity-related health problems.
The proposed penny-per-ounce excise tax could reduce consumption of sugared beverages by more than 10%, according to Paterson.
The tax would apply to beverages that contain more than 10 calories per 8 ounces, such as soda, sports drinks, “energy” drinks, colas, fruit or vegetable drinks containing less than 70% natural fruit or vegetable juice, and bottled coffee or tea. Milk, milk products, milk substitutes, dietary aids and infant formula would be exempt.
This is not the first time Paterson included a proposed soda tax in his budget plan. Legislators rejected a similar measure last year.
If the measure passes this year, New York would have the most significant soda tax in the nation.
Other U.S. states and cities are considering similar measures.
Philadelphia's fiscal 2011 budget includes a tax, which must be approved by the city council, that would charge retailers 2 cents per ounce of sugar-sweetened beverages including soda and sweetened juices, coffees, teas and sports drinks.
If approved, the measure would not only financially hurt Philadelphia residents, but also grocers by driving sales outside city limits, according to the American Beverage Association, Washington, a trade association whose members include Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and other beverage companies.
The 2-cents-per-ounce tax would add $2.88 to the cost of a 12-pack of non-alcoholic beverages, like soft drinks, the ABA says.