The American Heart Association released poll results showing Vermonters support a penny an ounce excise tax on sugar sweetened beverages (SSBs) if the revenue would fund health care for low income Vermonters. Additionally, Vermonters prefer the SSB tax to prevent budget cuts and they wouldn’t cross borders to avoid the tax. The poll was conducted of 413 Vermonters by ICF Macro, Inc. from Feb. 14-18.
American Heart Association Vermont Board President Mary Cushman of Shelburne said, “This poll shows the support is there from Vermonters for implementing a tax that will help address one of our biggest health threats – obesity. The bonus is that the funds can be used to lessen health care costs and fund efforts to decrease obesity in Vermont.”
Pointing to a 2011 UVM poll, Cushman noted this is the second time Vermonters have expressed support for the SSB tax to reduce health care costs for low income Vermonters. Forty Vermont organizations have also signed on, including the most recent additions of Central Vermont Medical Center and the Vermont Association of Nutrition and Dietetics this month.
Cushman said the tax is needed because drinks sweetened with sugar or caloric sweeteners are the largest source of added sugar in the U.S. diet today. “Every 20 ounce bottle of a typical soda drink contains nearly 17 teaspoons of sugar. High consumption of SSBs has been linked to greater risks for obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Plus, altering this part of a person’s diet is such a painless way to become healthier instantly.”
Among the poll’s findings are:
Sixty percent of Vermonters would support a penny per ounce tax on sugary drinks if the revenue was going to pay for health care for low income Vermonters.
When asked which of the following they’d prefer to prevent budget cuts to state programs assisting low to middle income Vermonters, respondents said:
Tax on sugary drinks – 58.44 percent
Higher gasoline taxes – 3.06 percent
Higher property taxes – 3.93 percent
Higher income taxes – 10.93 percent
Approximately 75 percent of Vermonters said they would not go to another state to buy sugary drinks if there was a penny per ounce tax on them in Vermont.