Sugary Drinks Could Be Subject To Extra Tax In Boulder

By Melissa Garcia

BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4)– The City of Boulder may soon impose a tax on sugary drinks. A proposed ballot measure would make the companies that distribute soda and other sweet beverages pay two cents per ounce in excise taxes.

“The sugar and drink industry is really harming our communities,” said Jorge De Santiago, a member of the new coalition, Healthy Boulder Kids.

Santiago wants Boulder families to trade in their sodas and sweet teas for healthier options.

“I think as a community, we have to be conscious about, what are we consuming? What are we actually giving to our children?” said Santiago.

The coalition filed a proposal for the November ballot.

(File photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

(File photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

If the measure passes, health officials say the tax money would go towards increased funding to promote exercise and healthy eating.

Some Boulder area residents believe the beverage companies would likely pass the cost on to consumers.

University of Colorado Boulder Alum Andrew McLean said he wouldn’t mind an increased price on sweet drinks, considering how a reduction in sugar-related illness could reduce taxpayer healthcare burden.

“If we think about the healthcare costs that are incurred, to me it makes sense to tax (sweet drinks) the same way that we tax cigarettes and alcohol,” said McLean.

According to the Healthy Boulder Kids Coalition, the proposed tax includes soda, sweetened juice drinks, sweetened bottled coffees and teas and energy drinks. The list of drinks that would not be taxed under the measure includes 100 percent fruit and vegetable juices (with no added sweeteners), milk products, liquid medicines like cough syrup, alcohol and baby formula.

Community leaders hope that the measure will improve some diet-related health problems.

(credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

(credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

According to Boulder County Public Health, kids who drink one sugary drink per day have a 55 percent higher risk of obesity, a 33 percent higher risk of dying from heart disease, and a 25 percent higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

“If you think about the impacts of overweight and obesity on kids, heart disease, cavities, liver disease, those diseases in our community cost a lot of money,” said Jeff Zayach, Boulder County Public Health Executive Director.

In order to pass, the City of Boulder would first have to formally approve the proposal within 15 days.

Thereafter, the coalition would have to collect a required number of signatures by the end of June for the measure to qualify on the November ballot.

Melissa Garcia has been reporting for CBS4 News since March 2014. Find her bio here, follow her on Twitter @MelissaGarciaTV, or send your story idea to mkgarcia@cbs.com.

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