NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - You could soon be paying more for soft drinks in Louisiana if one lawmaker has her way. State Rep Ebony Woodruff wants to put a 1-cent tax on every 4.2 grams of caloric sweetener in drinks. That's one cent for just about every teaspoon of sugar. So, if the bill passes you could expect to pay about 9 cents more for each can of soda with sugar in it. Or, about a $1.08 more for a 12-pack.
And, according to the bill, some of the revenue from that tax would go toward helping underserved communities have better access to healthy foods like fresh fruits and vegetables. It would also help fund obesity, heart disease, diabetes and school programs. While some we talked to like the idea, the majority of people said they're against it. "People have the right to choose what they want to eat and drink and put in their bodies, and I don't think taxing the public on sugary drinks is the answer to solving poverty," said Sean Bush of New Orleans.
The American Sugar Cane League out of Thibodaux supports Louisiana's sugar industry. General Manger Jim Simon, says they won't support the bill, either "Sugar consumption in America has gone down by almost 40 percent since 1970, while obesity has risen. So to put the burden of obesity on the back of sugar is misleading, we think, and misguided and doesn't help address the root cause of obesity," said Simon.
We reached out to Woodruff, but she did not return our request for comment. According to the bill, milk, alcohol, infant formula, electrolyte drinks for children as well as certain fruit and vegetable juices would be exempt from that additional tax if the bill passes.