Initiative 1634 is about soft drink profits, not groceries

By Bruce Cowan
Posted 10/23/18

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 …

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Initiative 1634 is about soft drink profits, not groceries

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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.

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