Soda Tax Threat a Boon for Food Lobbyists

Industry pours millions into fight against it
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 5, 2009 12:25 PM CST

(Newser) – Capitol Hill’s flirtation with a national excise tax on sugary drinks has been good for someone: food lobbyists. Soda makers, supermarkets, and fast-food restaurants have spent more than $24 million fighting the tax, the Huffington Post reports. “We are reacting to the situation we find ourselves in," says an exec at the American Beverage Association, which has tripled its lobbying and advertising budget. “We really don't know when the threat is over.”

They’re not just pushing the message on Capitol Hill; a group called Americans Against Food Taxes, made up mostly of industry heavyweights including Pepsico, Coca-Cola, and Burger King, has spent $5 million on a nationwide advertising campaign arguing that a soda tax will hurt lower-income Americans. Supporters of the tax compare it to the taxes on tobacco used to subsidize health care. One research paper said soft drinks “may be the single largest driver of the obesity epidemic.”