Local Politics

"Soda tax," other state bills looking to deter sugary drink consumption still on the table

"Soda tax," other state bills looking to deter sugary drink consumption still on the table

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. - Your sweet tooth could soon cost you some extra bucks. A state bill looking to add a tax to sugary drinks is still on the table. It's one of four proposals hoping to encourage people to choose healthier options. 

According to the San Luis Obispo County Health Department, nearly half of the sugar consumed in the United States comes from sugary drinks.

"Which is a pretty alarming statistic, I would say,' said Jen Miller, a community wellness project manager with the agency. 

California politicians think it's alarming, too. That's why there's four bills up for a vote next session involving ways to deter people from consuming too many sweet beverages. 

"So many of our chronic health issues come from too much sugar intakes, and that would be chronic diseases like obesity and diabetes," said Miller. 

In SLO county, the sugar cravings are coming at a price.

"In San Luis Obispo County, almost 60 percent of adults are either overweight, or obese," said Miller. 

Legislators in Sacramento have one solution: the "soda tax". It's proposing to add 2 cents per fluid ounce on soda and other sweet beverages. If approved, the funds would go towards efforts to fight diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and dental disease in the state. 

"If it's to benefit the health, I think it's a good idea," local resident Gary Campos said. 

"I think it would deter me from buying sodas," consumer Kerry Brooks said. 

"I agree, people will be healthier, less obese people," said resident Enrique Gonzalez.

"I hope [it works], maybe even for teenagers who drink a lot of that," said resident Tammy Weber. 

Not everybody is exactly on board with the proposal. Some of our followers on social media were calling it a "stupid idea" "government overreach", and a "scam".

"It's not the government's job to tax certain goods because they are unhealthy," Facebook commenter Athena Elliot said. "It's not their job to make personal choices for the consumer/citizen."

"I don't drink sodas but think this is none of their business if people drink or eat certain foods," Bon Crosby, another Facebook user said. 

Whether you're for or against the bill, health experts do recommend trading in soda for more H2O.

Miller recommends trying infused water.

"Consider [adding] vegetables and fruit, or even herbs. So like berries and rosemary, or cucumber mint."

There's also creamsicle water.

"Oranges sliced up, a little dash of vanilla, and ice cubes, and shake it up," she said. 

Legislators are looking at three other state bills involving sweet beverages: one would regulate how these drinks are marketed, another one would forbid stores from placing them near check-out, the third one would require these beverages to come with a safety warning.

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