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A National Soda Tax

cspiRosa DeLauro, the 12-term congresswoman from New Haven, will be introducing a bill in the House of Representatives that would require a national tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.

The SWEET ACT  (as she’s calling it) would amend the I.R.S. code and charge a penny per teaspoon of sugar, high-fructose corn syrup or other caloric sweeteners — “to be paid by the manufacturer, producer or importer of such products.” This would mean roughly a dime per can of soda, closer to 20 cents for a 20-ounce bottle or most medium-size soft drinks at restaurants. (Remember 6.5-ounce Cokes? The 20-ounce standard in part explains the obesity crisis.)

With coalition-building (the American Public Health Association and the Center for Science in the Public Interest, among others, are supporting the SWEET Act), education and continuing research and revelations about the damage wrought by high sugar consumption, we should see increased support for regulation of the marketing and sales of what’s sometimes called “liquid candy.”

Sugar is a major health issue that should wait no longer. When a generation passes, and people look back and ask, “What do we wish we had acted on more quickly?” the answer that comes to my mind instantly:  diet.

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