The American beverage industry, led by giants like Coca-Cola and Pepsi, has spent at least $106 million fighting public health initiatives like the soda tax and efforts to introduce warning labels on advertisements for sugary beverages, reveals research from the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
However, the CSPI also warned that “the actual amount spent by the soda industry is assuredly much greater, since campaign finance and lobby expenses are not available in 10 out of the 23 jurisdictions that have considered policies aimed at reducing sugar drink consumption.”
This figure also likely does not include Coca-Cola’s recent funding of prominent scientists, who have been asked to support research downplaying the role of diet in overall health.
CSPI also pointed out that “It’s impossible to know exactly what Big Soda’s lobbyists were working on; disclosure reports indicate menu labeling, school nutrition, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program were also among the industry’s interests.”
“Like the tobacco industry before it, the soda industry is spending heavily and spending strategically and has mostly been successful at blocking federal, state, and local public health measures aimed at reducing soda-related disease,” said Jim O’Hara, CSPI director of health promotion policy. “However, it’s unclear whether the industry will be able to preserve its winning streak when it has to fend off a greater number of soda tax or warning label proposals simultaneously.”