In a policy brief, a progressive policy research organization said a sugar-sweetened beverage tax or “soda tax” would reduce consumption – potentially impacting West Virginia’s obesity rates – and bring new revenue to the state.
In 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found West Virginians consumed sugar-sweetened beverages at the third highest rate in the nation.
The West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy said that a tax of just a penny per ounce could raise around 98 million dollars and prevent more than 17,000 cases of obesity.
West Virginia actually already has a Soft Drinks Tax that went into effect in 1951. These funds, though, are solely used for the schools of medicine, dentistry and nursing at West Virginia University.
The Center suggests that an additional tax could fund public health initiatives and reduce consumption. Opponents of a soda-tax say that it disproportionately affects poor people and is a government intrusion on personal choice.
The brief also referenced a report by the Harvard CHOICES project, which found that consuming one 8.5 ounce sugar-sweetened beverage a day increases the risk of diabetes by 18 percent. West Virginia has the second highest rate of obesity and the highest rate of diabetes in the nation.
Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, with support from the Marshall Health, Charleston Area Medical Center and WVU Medicine.