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Restaurants band together to defeat D.C. soda tax

More than three dozen local restaurants and businesses are joining forces to try to defeat Council member Mary M. Cheh's proposal for a citywide soda tax.

In today's edition of the Northwest Current, a group called NoDCBeverage Tax took out a full-page ad opposing the proposed tax.

"Listen up D.C.," the ad states. "A New Beverage Tax is Moving In. Unless we put the brakes on it."

It continues, "We can't afford to pay more taxes here in D.C. But some members of the City Council want to squeeze even more money out of us."

The ad references a Web site where residents are asked to sign a petition opposing the tax. According to the website, businesses and organizations ranging from Blimpies and Hudson News to Magruder's and Safeway are sponsors.

The council will likely consider Cheh's proposal, which would assess a 1 cent per ounce tax on sugar soda to pay for healthier school lunches, as part of the 2011 budget that will be voted on the council in late May.

The full list of coalition members can be found below:

Au Bon Pain
B&V Market
Benning Liquor
Capitol Café
Corner Bakery
Cosmo Café
Dakota Liquor
DC Republican Committee
Georgetown News
Hamilton's Bar & Grill
Hudson News
IB Curbon & Company
Jack's Famous Deli
Kenny Carryout
Mangialardo & Sons Inc.
Market to Market
North Capitol Food Mart
OM Corporation
Pizza Bolis
Price's Grocery
Primo Cappuccino
Riggs Wine & Liquor
Safeway Inc.
Sbarro's (298)
Shop Express
Starlight Food Inc.
Subway Sanwiches
SunDun Vending
Sunoco/G&K Sunoco Inc.
Super Liquor
T&G Grocery
Union Wine and Liquor
United Medical Center
Young's Globe Liquor

By Tim Craig  |  May 12, 2010; 3:28 PM ET
Categories:  City Finances , D.C. Council , Tim Craig  
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Let's be clear who "a group called NoDCBeverage Tax" actually is: The American Beverage Association (ABA) - also known as the official, corporate soda lobby. The front group for Coke, Pepsico and Dr. Pepper-Snapple are spending tens of thousands of dollars on daily ads in this very paper.

It's a shame that such supersized antics get such attention because Councilmember's Cheh proposal would actually grow local jobs, fund healthy schools and reduce hunger in the District. You can learn the truth behind the ABA's $5.4 million dollar lobbying campaign at and take action to support Councilmember Cheh's groundbreaking proposal: The D.C. Healthy Schools Act.

The ABA represents corporate interests. We stand for the future of our children and communities. Join us in fighting the carbonated lobby.

Sean S. Miller
Education Director
Earth Day Network

Posted by: SeanMiller | May 12, 2010 7:36 PM | Report abuse

With the DC City Council voting unanimously to pass the Healthy Schools Act, and 70% of District voters believing the Act and tax hike are a good idea, it seems these businesses are the only ones who don't like it.

Posted by: khanaz | May 12, 2010 7:43 PM | Report abuse

This soda tax will fund the DC Healthy Schools Act, which is one of the most progressive pieces of legislation to date regarding students' health and well-being. It contains some really phenomenal programs to reform school lunch, expand and enhance physical and health education, and build school gardens. Other monies will go towards food access initiatives, community-based anti-obesity programs, and nutritional programs for the elderly.

I absolutely LOVE that we're going to be funding progressive, empowering programs like these by taxing a substance with negligible nutritional value. These liquor stores and cafes should be ashamed of themselves for opposing a measure like this. This tax should pass and act as a precedent for other cities.

Posted by: jessmyhre | May 12, 2010 8:04 PM | Report abuse

You can definitely count me among the many who will simply skip the tax by shopping in MD and VA if this passes.

Posted by: Art17 | May 12, 2010 9:41 PM | Report abuse

Taxes DO NOT change behavior, as well intended as they may be. Cig tax? The District LOST money instead of gaining additional revenue. Same will happen here. The Council cannot continue to nickel and dime us - they must cut spending.

Posted by: onthecontrary | May 12, 2010 10:46 PM | Report abuse

Ummm, what is the United Medical Center doing on this list of soda tax opponents? Is this the same UMC in Ward 8, that is undergoing a council/city takeover? Isn't this support a conflict of interest and, more importantly, who is left over there to ok being a part of the no soda tax coalition?

Posted by: DeanwoodCitizen | May 13, 2010 8:29 AM | Report abuse

even if this tax forces people in dc to go to MD or VA for their suger drinks, dc residents will still lose weight because of the energy that will take.
so go DC! Fight Obesity and while you are at it, fight caffiene addiction.

Posted by: MarilynManson | May 13, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Tax it all you like. I drink maybe two sodas a year. The stuff is disgusting & totally unhealthy. Maybe it will make a difference and someone will choose water or milk or juice. What's so bad about giving people healthy options?

Posted by: ms1234 | May 13, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

The health and environmental organizations supporting the soda tax, which will fund the Healthy Schools Act and other community efforts to address obesity, also have a petition running here:

Sounds like a great idea to me!

Posted by: CaloriesCount | May 13, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse

"They taxed the cola drinkers,
and I didn't speak up because I don't drink cola.

Then they taxed the Diet Coke drinkers,
and I didn't speak up because I don't drink Diet Coke.

Then they taxed the Hawaiian Punch drinkers,
and I didn't speak up because I don't drink Hawaiian Punch.

Then they taxed the Perrier drinkers
and by that time no one was left to speak up."

-- Martin Niemöller (1892–1984).

Posted by: MikeLicht | May 13, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

I don't understand why this tax is needed. Cheh says to make school lunches healthier. My question is what are they serving now? And why isn't it healthy? I think the actual answer is Department of Agriculture regulations that don't make any sense. If Cheh taxes soda, then I will stop drinking it in the District. Just like I stopped using bags. Which means the District loses!

Posted by: columbiaheights | May 13, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

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