Should Rhode Island lawmakers OK a special tax on bottled and canned sugary drinks?

NEW TAX LEGISLATION could make buying sugary soft drinks costlier in Rhode Island, leading to debate over the measure’s potential positive effects on health and negative effects on the economy. / PBN FILE PHOTO/NICOLE DOTZENROD
HOUSE LAWMAKERS passed their reworked state lottery legislation on Tuesday, securing the state's 20-year agreement with International Game Technology PLC, and Bally's Corp., its third largest revenue stream. / PBN FILE PHOTO/NICOLE DOTZENROD

Legislation under consideration in the R.I. House and Senate would add a 1.5-cent-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks such as soda, sports drinks, energy drinks, and sweetened teas and coffees.

The tax would be assessed on beverage distributors, who would likely pass it on to retailers and consumers.

While several U.S. cities have enacted taxes on sugary drinks, no state has passed such a measure. In Rhode Island, similar legislative efforts have failed in the past.

Supporters of the tax say sugary beverages are unhealthy and should be avoided. A portion of the tax revenue would be used to give Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients a 50% reduction on the cost of fruits and vegetables.

- Advertisement -

But local food and beverage industry groups argue that the tax will hurt local beverage makers and consumers who are already struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it may push some to cross into Massachusetts to do their food shopping, damaging Rhode Island retailers.

Purchase NowWant to share this story? Click Here to purchase a link that allows anyone to read it on any device whether or not they are a subscriber.

No posts to display