Thursday, January 07, 2010


1 cent/ounce tax on soda drinks brings in as much as state stealing hotel tax from counties

by Larry Geller

Mayors have objected to the state taking away the hotel room tax from the counties (see: Honolulu Advertiser, Lawmakers urge Hawaii counties to impose new sales taxes, 1/7/2010).

Leaving the hotel tax with the counties is an incentive for each county to develop its tourism resources and so benefits the state as a whole. Taxing sodas may have health benefits. This option should be placed on the table, it could be a win-win solution.

A tax on sugar-sweetened and diet beverages (which also contribute to obesity, diabetes and the medical costs that come with them) would bring the state as much as taking the hotel tax away from the counties would bring in. The following calculation is from the calculator in the article cited above, and is based on Hawaii’s population and a one-cent/ounce tax rate. Tourist imbibing would bring in additional revenue.

Soda tax

The $104,000,000 is about the same as the Advertiser reports budget analysts estimate the state would get from the hotel tax for 2012 ($104.9 million) and more than the state would get in 2011 ($99.4 million).

Let’s give a fair look at innovative ways to increase revenues, especially ones that may bring useful additional benefits.


It’s absolutely absurd and antithetical to include diet drink in the tax scheme- we should be encouraging diet drinks as a substitute for sugar drinks s as to decrease diabetes obesity and the like.

Personally diet drinks saved my life- I’ve been a diagnosed diabetic for 15 years and cutting sugar and substituting NutraSweet has enable me to control my blood sugar.

One could tax only sugary drinks and still make lots of money. The calculator website produces both calculations.

But if you google, you'll find studies showing the opposite of what may be intuitive. For example, the first google hit when I searched, Drink More Diet Soda, Gain More Weight?:

"What didn't surprise us was that total soft drink use was linked to overweight and obesity," Fowler tells WebMD. "What was surprising was when we looked at people only drinking diet soft drinks, their risk of obesity was even higher."

In the unlikely event this tax is ever considered by our legislature, they can work out what is best to do.

Fabulous to tax sodas......did you see that the corn sweetener industry has an ad on TV that makes out that their sweetener is "natural" - and no problem for one's health. Yes, this sort of tax would be quite good.

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