Americans Against Food Taxes Coalition Formed

Published in CSP Daily News

Says singling out consumer products wrong approach to health care reform

WASHINGTON -- Americans Against Food Taxes, a new coalition has been formed to stand up against new taxes on food and beverages. It is a coalition of concerned citizens--responsible individuals, financially strapped families, small and large businesses in communities across the country--opposed to the government's proposed tax hike on food and beverages, including soda, juice drinks and flavored milks.

The coalition also launched its new website at www.nobeverageandfoodtaxes.com.

Americans Against [image-nocss] Food Taxes has two primary aims: to prevent the enactment of regressive and discriminatory food taxes that will have no meaningful impact on improving health care but will have a negative impact on American families struggling in this economy; and to promote a healthy economy and healthy lifestyles by educating Americans about smart solutions that rely upon science, economic realities and common sense.

"Our customers and our businesses are already struggling to survive in this recession," said Nelson A. Eusebio, executive director of the National Supermarket Association and regional co-chair of Americans Against Food Taxes. "We simply cannot afford more government regulation in the form of new taxes on foods and beverages sold by supermarkets and enjoyed by everyday Americans."

Americans Against Food Taxes' widespread membership is reflective of how food and beverage taxes will hurt a broad array of individuals, families and businesses across the country. It also represents concern about a "slippery slope" that would lead to taxing other everyday grocery items. The coalition already has more than 110 national and state organizations as members, as well as more than 20,000 individuals, and it continues to grow.

"The last thing we should do is tax food in the midst of the deepest economic recession in over a generation. Food taxes are bad public policy because they disproportionately impact America's working families," said Pamela G. Bailey, president and CEO of the Grocery Manufacturers Association.

"We all want to improve health care, but taxes don't make anyone healthy. Education, exercise and balanced diets do that," Neely said.

More than 20,000 individuals have already joined the coalition and signed a petition at the Americans Against Food Taxes website opposing new taxes on juice drinks and soda. The website also allows individuals and businesses to send an email to their members of Congress opposing these proposed taxes. More than 60,000 messages have been sent so far.

"The last thing American families need right now is higher grocery prices, and consumers should be concerned that when Congress targets one food product for a tax, other items in the grocery cart are at risk of being taxed to pay for the next thing. Families need some relief in their grocery bills right now, not a greater burden with higher taxes," said Barbara McConnell, president of the Food Industry Association Executives.

Americans Against Food Taxes supports health care reform, but taxing beverages and foods will not teach our kids how to live a healthy lifestyle. In fact, America's beverage and food industry is doing its part to reduce childhood obesity and teach healthy lifestyles through innovation, nutrition education and encouraging physical activity. Through the national School Beverage Guidelines, America's leading beverage companies are cutting calories in schools across the country. Under these guidelines, full-calorie soft drinks are being removed from schools. The guidelines provide for only bottled water, low-fat and nonfat milk and 100% juice in elementary and middle schools, with the addition of diet sodas, low-calorie teas and reduced-portion sports drinks in high schools. The guidelines have cut calories from beverages in schools by 58% in just two years.

Americans Against Food Taxes' membership includes the American Beverage Association, the National Supermarket Association, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the Can Manufacturers Institute, the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, the Corn Refiners Association, the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), the International Dairy Foods Association, the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), the National Grocers Association, the National Restaurant Association, the Snack Food Association and the National Taxpayers Union, among others.