Sugary drink debate fizzing up at State House

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A debate over sugary drinks is fizzing up in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts hospitals are asking state lawmakers to put a tax on sugary drinks. Drinks that they say can increase the risk of obesity, and diabetes, when consumed often.

Sara Vermette of South Hadley told 22News, she believes the idea would help make the state healthier. “A lot of the foods that we consume, and the drinks that we consume are all processed, and are really bad for us. All of the sugars are amplified in our drinks. I actually am all for higher taxes on sugary foods and drinks,” she said.

It’s a proposal that several other states have already considered, including New Mexico, where it was recently rejected after the American Beverage Association spent more than $1-million fighting against it.

Under the current Massachusetts proposal, the more sugar in the drink, the most expensive the tax would be.

A 12 oz. drink with more than 5 grams of sugar would end up costing you more money, something that Steven Schultz of Springfield told 22News he disagrees with. “People have to have their sodas every day, I think that people are going to buy it, regardless of whether there’s a tax or not,” he said.

The proposal would add a 40 cent tax, to a 20 oz. bottle of soda. Opponents argue that tax would put a burden on low-income people who have trouble affording state taxes as is.

Similar proposals have previously failed in Massachusetts.