A proposed statewide soda tax that would raise funds to fight childhood obesity moved closer to reality this week, after winning approval of the California Senate Health Committee. The 7 to 2 committee vote means the Sugary Drink Tax (Senate Bill 622) authored by Senator Bill Monning (D-Carmel) now moves to the Senate Appropriations Committee.
“The Senate Health Committee is rightfully concerned about the current childhood obesity crisis, which causes billions in preventable health care costs and lost economic output,” stated Senator Monning. “The Committee’s support demonstrates a desire to protect the health of our children and to mitigate the harmful effects of soda and other sugary drinks.”
The legislation, which won approval in the Senate Committee on Governance and Finance last week, would collect an excise tax of a penny per ounce on beverages distributed in California that have a high level of caloric sweetener, such as sodas, energy drinks, sweet teas, and sports drinks. The soda tax would raise an estimated $1.7 billion a year for a Childhood Prevention Obesity Fund that would, among other things, pay for nutrition education, park and recreation programs, PE teachers and improvements in school meals.
“Sugary drinks are the largest driver of the obesity crisis. Almost 40 percent of California children are overweight and one-third of all children, including half of Latino and African American children born in 2000, will have diabetes sometime in their lives. SB 622 is a critical step toward correcting that crisis, reducing consumption and paying for programs to help address the problems caused by these beverages,” said Dr. Harold Goldstein of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, which sponsors the bill.