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Soda tax is among 2,189 bills introduced by California lawmakers

February 26, 2013|By Patrick McGreevy
  • Soft drinks are displayed on the shelf at a grocery store. A California lawmaker wants to impose a tax on sweetened beverages.
Soft drinks are displayed on the shelf at a grocery store. A California lawmaker… (Emile Wamsteker / Bloomberg )

A proposal to tax sweetened soda in California has renewed debate over the state's role in preventing obesity among its residents.

State Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel) has introduced legislation that would levy a 1-cent-per-ounce tax on sweetened beverages, including sodas, as part of an effort to fight obesity among young people.

The money paid by beverage distributors under SB 622 would go to a Children's Health Promotion Fund to pay for a statewide childhood obesity prevention program. ``This bill will combat the obesity crisis and ensure that our children-- and future generations of Californians-- are not doomed to a shorter life expectancy and can instead live longer, healthier lives,'' Monning said.

In addition to funding the program, Monning said the measure "is intended to discourage excessive consumption of sweetened beverages by increasing the price of these products.’"

The legislation was condemned Monday by the food-industry backed Center for Consumer Freedom, which said the levy will not slim down consumers.

"Taxes shouldn’t be a tool for social engineering or an instrument to penalize Californians for doing nothing wrong,” said J. Justin Wilson, senior research analyst at the center. "Residents of California don’t need a PhD in nutrition to tell them that eating or drinking too much of anything is unhealthy; it only takes a little common sense and personal responsibility."

The Monning bill was one of 2,189 bills introduced by state lawmakers by Friday’s deadline for this year, setting an agenda that will  include debates on legalizing Internet poker, regulating medical marijuana sales, expanding healthcare, and controlling guns and bullets, among other issues.

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patrick.mcgreevy@latimes.com

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