New York Governor David Paterson (D) has released a 2010-11 executive budget proposal that calls for “a new excise tax of approximately one penny per ounce on sugared beverages linked to obesity ($465 million).” According to the proposal, which claims that obesity-related disease costs the state’s health care system $7.6 billion annually, the so-called soda tax “will discourage consumption of those unhealthy products and improve long-term health outcomes.” The legislature has until April 1, 2010, to enact a budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

Past efforts to institute a levy on sugar-sweetened beverages have met with opposition. “[Paterson] has proposed a soda tax before, then caved, after orchestrated industry protests across the state,” noted a January 19 New York Times editorial that urged the governor to “resist and keep the tax.” In addition, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has praised the initiative, deeming it a “courageous yet common-sense move” to dissuade consumers from purchasing “a totally unnecessary and worthless product.” See CSPI Press Release, January 19, 2009.

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For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.