Last week, Ellen Valentino, executive vice president of the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Beverage Association, responded to an editorial in support of a beverage tax in the Baltimore Sun. Let’s take a look at how she responded –

“It is true that our nation is facing public health challenges — including obesity — however no single food, beverage or ingredient is a unique contributor to obesity or any other health conditions… Federal data shows obesity rates are on the rise while soda consumption is at 32-year lows. Data from the Beverage Marketing Corporation shows that full-calorie soda sales have gone down 13 straight years and average calories per serving from beverages are down 33 percent. Simply put, obesity rates have continued to go up as calories and sugars from beverages have been going down.”

Instead of focusing on taxes that won’t tackle the challenge of obesity, Valentino points to a better way to address obesity –

“Maryland’s beverage companies share the goal of a strong, healthy America, which is why we are…. driving a reduction in the sugar and calories consumed from beverages across America – engaging with prominent public health and community organizations in this effort.

We are providing more choices with reduced and zero sugar, clear calorie labels on the front of all our products and the encouragement to cut back on sugar and calories from beverages.”

Valentino also notes that taxes can majorly impact working families and small businesses –

“A tax hike on beverages would hit working families not only at the cash register but could also put good-paying jobs at risk. One needs to look no further than Philadelphia, where business owners have seen sales drop by as much as 50 percent because of the beverage tax as Philadelphians shop in the suburbs to avoid the tax.”

We agree that there are better ways forward – check out to find out what we’re doing to encourage behavior change. To read Valentino’s full letter, click here.