Massachusetts Beverage Association against taxing sugary drinks

Drinks that have more than 5g of sugar per serving would be taxed at the rate of one cent per ounce

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – A potential tax on sweet drinks has left a sour taste for the Massachusetts Beverage Association.

Hospitals and health advocates are pushing lawmakers to tax sugary drinks to steer parents and schools from giving them to kids. The MBA says said such a tax could cause more harm than good, by ignoring the positives of some sweetened drinks.

“Electrolytes in Gatorade are pretty good for the kids playing sports,” says Florence resident Jonathan Peters-Wolfe, “and ginger ale is pretty good for stomach illnesses too.”

The M-B-A points to Philadelphia, which imposed a similar tax this year. Sales have plummeted as much as 20% at local grocery stores. A Massachusetts sugary drink tax would be based on a drink’s sugar content. Drinks that have more than 5g of sugar per serving would be taxed at the rate of one cent per ounce. To put that in perspective, a 20-ounce soda bottle, with only one serving would cost an additional 20-cents. A 20-ounce soda bottle with 2 servings would cost an additional 40-cents.

That money would go into a fund focused on improving children’s health. Valerie Clark of Chicopee agrees with the idea, saying, “Obesity related conditions are a big problem, and the taxes could go to help healthcare.”

The MBA said soft drinks aren’t driving state rates of obesity and diabetes, and a tax on sugary drinks won’t solve those issues.

Drinks with 100% fruit or vegetable juice would be exempt from this tax.