Senators Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) have issued a report, “Summertime Blues,” in which they provide information about “100 stimulus projects that give taxpayers the blues.” Among the projects is a $521,000 grant to the University of Illinois to study whether taxes on soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages can affect the incidence of obesity. According to the senators, “While it is hard to disagree that soda and other sugary drinks are contributing factors to the national obesity epidemic, it is easy to disagree whether federal dollars should be used to study the relationship between taxes and obesity.”

In a related development, the CEO of a nonprofit foundation writing in The Hill’s “Pundits Blog,” called the District of Columbia’s decision to take a “soda tax” off the table “an unfortunate mistake.” Kathy Kemper opines that the proposal “would take our capital city far in reducing sugar consumption among the city’s adults and our children, who are suffering from a high obesity rate that’s caused by poor eating, drinking and no exercise habits.” Kemper contends that sugary drinks “should not be a staple in any grocery cart” and that the city’s “epidemic of diet related disease needs to be penalized.”

She reminds readers of a “recent history lesson” involving the tobacco industry, which she claims “fought like crazy,” when federal agencies sought to reduce tobacco use with public education campaigns. According to Kemper, “The beverage industry should learn from Big Tobacco’s experience and save themselves a lot of money, anguish and time. That industry—and every resident of the District—should get on board and support not only a small tax on soda but also increased labeling and education about healthy drinking habits.”

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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.

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