Proposal to Increase Soft Drink Tax

By: Ashley Reynolds Email
By: Ashley Reynolds Email

Lawmakers in several states are proposing legislation that would increase taxes on soft drinks.

Lawmakers say this is all geared towards encouraging folks to make healthier choices.

While there is currently not a proposal in Kentucky, industry leaders are calling this a real threat.

"In Eastern Kentucky we have friends of coal, well we also have friends of cola," said Neil Barry with Middlesboro Coca-Cola.

In Kentucky alone Coca-Cola is a three and a half billion dollar industry.
Leaders say they can't even look at this situation with the glass half full.

"It's really scary and something that could jeopardize a huge industry," said Barry.

In most stores you can buy a 2 liter bottle of Coke for a little more than one dollar, but if you have to pay one penny per ounce, because of taxes, it could cost you close to two dollars.

"A 50 percent increase in our cost due to tax would hurt our sales. We would lose all kinds of jobs," said Barry.

Officials say nationwide they have seen a 10 percent decline in all soft drink sales in recent years.

At Bell County High School students can't buy soft drinks with sugar.

Educators say while this might encourage kids to make better choices, it hurts the budget.

"A lot of the sales went to fund different programs. There was not an increase in funding to make up for that loss," said Bell County High School Principal Jeff Saylor.

"If you put us out of business we can't support local high school athletic programs and help with recycling," said Barry.

Officials say they are optimistic and hope Kentucky lawmakers will support this major industry.

Coca-Cola leaders also say if taxes do increase, it will also hurt the production of other products they make like bottled water.

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