Soft Drink Industry Using Smokin' PR
Source: San Francisco Chronicle, August 16, 2009
Soft drink companies are joining the list of corporations scrambling to use tobacco industry public relations tactics to influence legislation, in this case to scuttle a proposal to tax sodas and sugary drinks to help fund health care. A front group formed and funded by the beverage industry called Americans Against Food Taxes (AAFT) says on its Web site, NoFoodTaxes.com, that it is a "coalition of concerned citizens" including "financially strapped families," but its members are the world's biggest soda pop and sugary-drink manufacturers, along with the nation's biggest convenience store and fast food chains. AAFT is running TV ads in the Washington, D.C. area that show a slender adult couple and their children on a family camping trip while a voice-over says, "This is no time for Congress to be adding taxes on the simple pleasures we all enjoy. ... We all want to improve health care, but taxes never made anyone healthy. Education, exercise and balanced diets do that." Yale University researcher Kelly Brownell says the soft drink companies are using the same tactics that the tobacco industry uses to ward off taxes: promoting personal responsibility as the answer, offering "healthier" versions of their products that have negligible benefits, abdicating responsibility for abuse of their products and claiming a tax on soda would be an attack on free choice.
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