Hawaii Soda Tax Considered, Abandoned.

Hawaii Soda Tax Considered, Abandoned.

Back in January, Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie (D) proposed taxing sugar sweetened beverages. The suggested one cent per ounce fee was expected to “raise $38 million in revenue over the next two years while reducing consumption of sugary drinks by 8% to 10%.” The idea was supported by many, including the state’s Department of Health, but criticized by the soda industry and many soda drinkers.

SB 1085 SD 1, Relating to Obesity Prevention:

Imposes a fee on sugar-sweetened beverages. Establishes the obesity and chronic disease prevention special fund and the Hawaii interagency obesity prevention council to support obesity prevention programs. Makes an appropriation from the obesity and chronic disease prevention special fund to the department of health.

The “No Hawaii Beverage Tax Coalition,” which represents more than 300 businesses, released the following statement when the measure was introduced:

“Everyone knows that obesity is a complex issue requiring a holistic approach that includes healthy and sensible eating and more exercise. Taxing beverages is a tactic that takes our eye off the real problem and hits consumers directly in the pocketbook at the grocery store.”

The measure initially gained traction in the Hawaii Senate. However, Senate Ways and Means Committee Chair Senator David Ige (D-Pearl Harbor-Pearl City-Aiea) has acknowledged that the soda fee has been tabled for now. “We decided that we won’t be moving forward with the soda fee this year. … [W]e didn’t believe that it would be prudent for us to implement that fee this year,” he said. Yet all hope is not lost for proponents of a soda tax, for “it’s always in the play for next year.”

No Hawaii Beverage Tax Coalition is “pleased” with the news, underscoring that “a one-beam laser gun approach called a beverage tax” isn’t the answer.

Meanwhile, the New York City Soda Ban is scheduled to take effect tomorrow, March 12, 2013.

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