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A soda tax? Lawmakers are drinking it up

February 25, 2010 |  1:25 pm

Coke Got a sweet tooth to feed? You may end up having to fork out a bit more cash to satisfy it, if some California lawmakers have their way.

State Senate Majority Leader Dean Florez (D-Shafter) introduced a bill this month that would tack a one-cent levy on -- ready for this? -- every teaspoon of added sugar and other calorie-laden sweeteners in beverages sold in stores. Lawmakers say research has shown a connection between obesity and folks who drink soft drinks.

The tax would be imposed on companies such as Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo Inc. and other businesses that bottle soda or make syrup or beverages for fountain drinks, lawmakers said.

Taxing soda is a common refrain heard in legislative halls across the country these days. Similar pushes to tack a tax on soft drinks have bubbled up in a dozen states this last year: Colorado’s governor just signed into law a bill that revokes the tax exemption on candy and soft drinks.

How much revenue could be generated? A vat-load: The California Center for Public Health Advocacy estimated that the excise tax could pull in $1.5 billion a year, which could be used to help cash-strapped cities and schools bolster health programs.

The beverage makers are, understandably, a wee bit peeved at the thought of forking out that much money.

Interested in the debate? Find out more in this story by L.A. Times reporters Kim Geiger and Tom Hamburger.

-- P.J. Huffstutter

Photo: Consumer buying a can of Vanilla Coke. Credit: Rogan Macdonald / Bloomberg News