This letter is in response to the Sept. 20 editorial on soft drink taxes ("Fat From Fizz: It's Time to Consider a Tax on Sugary Drinks"). The Post-Gazette and those who support a new federal tax on soft drinks think this idea will solve America's fiscal and health crises. They're wrong.
Most reasonable people agree that new taxes on any product are counterproductive. New taxes are regressive and tend to impact those who can least afford to pay more for products and services they need or enjoy. New taxes stifle economic growth, which is especially unhelpful as our state and nation continue to recover from the economic crisis. And there's no evidence that new taxes will help reduce obesity: The two states that have imposed excise taxes on soft drinks have some of the highest obesity rates in the nation.
One thing is certain, however: Educating parents and their children about the importance of healthy lifestyles and making healthy choices is key to solving the health challenges we confront. The soft drink industry is doing its part by providing consumers with a wide variety of products from which to choose. In fact, consumers of all ages are drinking more no- and low-calorie beverages; the beverage industry has reduced calories produced per ounce by over 24 percent from 1998 to 2008.
We're balancing our efforts by working with communities and school districts to better educate children and adults on the importance of a balanced diet and increased physical activity. Our national School Beverage Guidelines promote healthy lifestyles for children by increasing healthy options and promoting physical activity.
Better education, not more taxes on consumers, will help solve the challenges we confront.
Pennsylvania Beverage Association