U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) has reportedly introduced legislation (H.R. 5279) seeking to implement a nationwide sugar-sweetened beverage tax. Dubbed the SWEET Act, the measure “would institute a tax of 1 cent per teaspoon of caloric sweetener such as sugar or high-fructose corn syrup,” according to a July 30, 2014, press release. Revenue raised by the proposed tax would be used to fund prevention and treatment programs, nutrition education and other initiatives designed to reduce obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and tooth decay.
“There is a clear relationship between sugar-sweetened beverages and a host of other health conditions,” said DeLauro. “We are at a crucial tipping point and the SWEET Act will help correct the path we are currently on.”
Meanwhile, Mark Bittman has already penned a New York Times opinion piece in support of the bill, arguing that a national soda tax might not pass congressional muster right now but needs to start somewhere. “The first national health care act was proposed in 1939, and the modern history of anti-tobacco legislation began in the 1960s. Yet both are now powerful realities,” he writes. “DeLauro is the right person for this. She has a history when it comes to noble and seemingly ill-fated gestures. For example, she introduced a bill requiring calorie counts on restaurant menus more than 10 years ago and was then regarded, as she says, as ‘the crazy aunt in the attic.’ Yet a provision for menu labeling was included in the Affordable Care Act.” See The New York Times, July 29, 2014.