Lufkin dietician supports soda tax

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - By Morgan Thomas - email

LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - Lawmakers seem to be getting creative with their suggestions on how to fix the state budget deficit. The latest? A soda tax.

"The argument is by taxing soda we'll reduce obesity rates," said J. Justin Wilson, a senior research analyst for The Center for Consumer Freedom.

The Center watches legislation across the country.

Wilson says they're trying to push back against it.

"I think this is just a form of social engineering, plain and simple, and the government shouldn't be in the business telling me how much I can weigh," Wilson said.

However, Lufkin resident Alex Stamm believes healthy living needs to be a priority.

"We have a big obesity in schools and they're trying to cut that out," Stamm said. "So I think it's a good idea to start taxing sugary drinks and everything."

Registered licensed dietician Amy McLeod supports it, too. Especially if it changes behavior.

"So many people do things just out of habit," McLeod said. "Without being aware of it. If it hits their pocketbook it may bring awareness that they need to make that change."

The proposed tax is one cent per ounce of liquid so that would mean a two-liter bottle of Coke at 67 ounces would cost 67 cents more."

Filling the state's empty coffers is what Lufkin resident Mike Bantz believes is really behind this tax proposal.

"The bottom line and the overall motive is revenue," Bantz said. "With all the budget deficits,  local, county, state and federal governments, they're all looking for money. From a financial standpoint, not from a health benefit or trying to get people to stop."

McLeod says it kills two birds with one stone: it brings in revenue and educates.

"From a health standpoint, anything that's going to help people make better health decisions is going to be a good thing," McLeod said.

The question remains: if the bill passes, could it lead to more food and drink taxing?

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