Please vote “No” on Initiative 1634. Let’s protect local decision-making from out-of-state special interests. Don’t be fooled by Big Soda’s slick propaganda. 

On the ballot it will say that Initiative1634 “concerns taxation of certain items intended for human consumption.” This is Big Soda’s bid to prohibit local taxes on soda pop. Other foods are already exempt from sales tax. 

Big Soda wrote I-1634 and paid signature gatherers. Now they are spending $20 million to sell it to voters in a campaign of false claims and fear. Coca Cola, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, and Red Bull are behind it. Corporations support a similar measure in Oregon this year. They already chalked up a win in California. 

Have you seen the glossy mailers and television spots? The Seattle Times calls the campaign “misleading.” The Tacoma News Tribune calls it a “con job.” The Olympian calls it a “terrible idea,” and a “clear case of out-of-state corporations meddling” with local authority. People who care about public health call it a “blatant corporate power grab.” 

The American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association and other advocates for public health and good government are leading a “No” campaign against I-1634. With just $8,000 the Healthy Kids Coalition can’t begin to compete for public attention, and their principled appeals are no match for the cynical messaging of Big Soda. 

Big Soda’s products harm our health. Children who drink even one soda per day are at much higher risk for obesity. Sugary drinks are associated with obesity; heart, liver, and kidney disease; diabetes; and tooth decay according to the federal Centers for Disease Control. 

Corporations are not people, and their motive is profit, not the health of children. Corporations can pour unlimited money into initiative campaigns. Coca Cola and Pepsi were among the corporations that funneled over $30 million into the campaign to defeat I-522, claiming that labeling GMO foods would raise grocery prices. Sound familiar? 

Seattle is the only locality in Washington taxing sugary drinks, and the revenue funds nutrition programs for children. Do we want to give up the right of towns and cities all over Washington even to consider asking Big Soda to chip in for public health?

We, the people voting in this election, cannot let international corporations like Coca-Cola and Pepsi get away with this calculated campaign to take away our local rights. We cannot let a media blitz of fear carry the day. We cannot encourage more corporate spending on deceptive initiatives. Stand up to corporate greed. Stand up for our right to self-governance. Vote “No” on Initiative 1634.

(13) comments

Bill Stewart

Tom Camfield says we should emulate Seattle. He is very reliable. I agree- if you want to do that vote "no".

Frank Kelley

It is not about groceries or even sugar. This inconsistent tax is a novel way to be sanctimonious, conceived by people that don't consume these products.

Not so fast, the proponents of this tax can't claim it reduces consumption (UW hasn't studied this, see link) but the Seattle mayor is attempting to tap this revenue for things she believes in like sponsored/supervised drug injection vans (all in the name of "public health").

Do you think that 1.57 cents an ounce is really going to stop people from consuming these drinks or is likely to just raise the costs on their groceries (albeit, items you don't think they should have in their cart). Yes they are groceries. People don't separate out the items in their grocery bag based on your impression on whether they are empty calories or not.

A mocha has the same sugar as a can of Coke and 200 more calories. How about the Port Townsend City Council banning whipped cream on coffee? Why not a tax on sodium or on meals greater than 400 calories? The tax is unfair and I don't see a bad diet served by a local barista any different than these items.

I don't have local representation in the Urban Growth Area where I shop for groceries. So I will stand up for self governance when I vote yes.

Bruce Cowan

The measure is not a tax. No tax is in this proposal or under consideration. If defeated, cities would not lose one of their few options for revenue. Alcohol is harmful and we tax it. That may or may not reduce consumption. So are cigarettes. Cannabis is taxed. The money generated is used for education and to address the health consequences of these products to our people.

Tom Camfield

You're right, Bruce. Absolutely no tax is included in this initiative. Imposition of any taxes in the future would be something considered by officials we elect to office to represent our best interests. Voting NO on this initiative merely will leave community government's options open, just as they are at present. This initiative is just a preemptive strike by big business. If the Initiative should pass, I hope the state's supreme court would rule it unconstitutional at some later date.

Frank Kelley

Can I ask why you would celebrate the will of the voters being ruled unconstitutional? The Democratic Party supports this measure. In the interest of "self governance" would you, Bruce, Kate Dean or some party minder prefer to just accompany me through the aisles and tell me whether you think I should pay extra for that seven layer dip or the non version light version of sour cream. Would you like that Tom?

Jeff Gallant

Direct taxation is the preferred method by liberal legislators to regulate those activities they deem deplorable.

Tom Camfield

We're not talking about whipped cream and lattes. I also don't see any proposed tax associated with this initiative. In any case, I would support a tax, if proposed (which it isn't under this initiative), on such "soft drinks." And i'd boost it up over time, much as the tax on cigarets.

Obesity or lung cancer. Take your choice. Both are deadly.

I also have a memory of school years and a good look at them now. A borderline obese teenager is not likely to have a prom date, and life can be just plain downhill from then on.—often reaching a futility point too soon in the scheme of life.

Let's get real about pumping up on sugar. True, adults often take up on it later and suffer the consequences. But I'm for nipping obesity in the bud at an early age and giving more kids a fighting chance at equality. I never heard of soda pop when I was a child, and I was fortunate never to be introduced to it later on.

Jeff Gallant

Bruce, so close, but no cigar. I know you think this is a about soda, and to a certain extent you are right. But can you honestly say that you want 500 hundred local jurisdictions in this State, using their legislative time and deliberative energy deciding what foods are a public nuisance and how much they should be taxed. Given the fact that at least some of these jurisdiction will abuse that power,.... the courts will working full time to oversee the height, breadth and width of local legislative authority. I think it is important the we have a conversation about the societal cost of some individual decisions. Like helmet laws there are consequences to our individual acts, But the local level is not the place. There are enough problems for our County Commissioners and City Council that we need not dump this in their lap.

Tom Camfield

Local jurisdictions throughout the state already have diverse taxing regulations--such as school district special levies. Every city also has its own specific, differing sales and use tax--in addition to the standard state sales tax. When the federal government won't provide for the common good, states are being forced to pick up the slack in various ways. When the states won't provide, cities, counties, school and fire districts must step to the fore and use selective taxes and fees (And restrictions, some of which deal with guns).

Sometimes we have to start at the grassroots and work up to keep our society moving in the right direction.

Voting NO on this industry-concocted initiative will NOT be opening the door to taxes on carrots, ground beef, milk, raisins, eggs, etc., etc.—so forget that fear angle, a ploy much loved by the Republican-Industrial side of our society. Voting FOR the initiative will prevent cities from levying a specific sales tax on such things as sugary soft drinks--which hopefully cuts back on widespread obesity that decimates available medical-care funding, shortens life expectancy, etc. The trend in public schools already has been to remove such things as Coke machines. Obesity is one of today's most widespread medical problems.

Seattle continues to be a big-city leader in promoting social welfare with such things as this sort of tax, a $15 minimum wage, etc. When filling out my mail-in ballot, I"ll promptly put a NO on this initiative before proceeding to ponder a bit on a local office race or two.
I'm already sick and tired of big business running the country in general these days.

The sneaky and deceptive manner in which this initiative is worded also is typical also of the conservative propaganda being launched against the public on an ongoing basis.

Jeff Gallant

I am not sure it's that sneaky, it says straight out, local jurisdiction should not have the authority to tax groceries if you agree vote yes. Now on a separate issue if the anti soda people want to tax soda's they must make a distinction between soda and groceries, or make state legislation to tax soda. Its a little harder road but in the long run would have broader impact. come on man

Tom Thiersch

This proposition is deliberately misworded, so be sure you vote NO to allow localities to address the awful health and economic effects of sugary drinks.

“I think this [soda tax] is about as close to free-lunch, win-win policy as economists have found” (Larry Summers)

Jeff Gallant

Will I be able to by five pounds of sugar from the grocery store to make my buttermilk bisquits in this county if you rule the world.

Tom Parks

Right On Tom ! Good Call. Too Many vague "regulations" and yes, let's keep the decision making here at home. No To Sugar Drinks ! No to this Init.

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