Is it April Fools Day again? A “soda tax” heading toward the ballot!? Really, oh this must be some kind of joke. A one cent tax per ounce on sweetened beverages like sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks and bottled teas and coffees sold in town? Whatever happened to freedom of choice? There is a sign on the historic shed as you enter town that notes that Telluride is a Civil Liberties Safe Zone. Civil Liberties are civil rights and freedoms that provide individuals specific rights. Do I not have the right, the freedom, to choose what I want to eat and drink without having to pay more for that choice? Where will this go next? A tax on all fruit juice? There is a lot of sugar in juice as well. What about chips, cookies and ice cream? These salty and sugary treats are also not good for you. What about red meat? Government and taxes should not be used to change or punish people’s choices. Education and dispersal of relevant info to the public should be the focus and then let people make up their own minds. I do not drink much of these items but I feel that this action steps over the bounds as to what is fair and appropriate and is impinging on my rights and freedom of choice.
How will this tax work? Will it only be in stores? What about restaurants? Is there going to be a tax on all drinks except water in restaurants as well? Is the town going to pay all the stores for the required signage that will be needed as well as the changes that will be required to upgrade the computers/scanners to charge this tax? Also, who will be voting on this tax that is going to the ballot? Will this be only a town ballot or a county-wide ballot? Most of the people here do not live in town, but rather outside of town and will not have a say if this is only a town ballot measure. This is another good reason to not shop locally. We should not be pushing people, both locals and tourists, away but rather encouraging everyone to shop and buy local.
What possible lawsuits will the town be opening itself up to from stores as well as major beverage companies with this tax? Does the town have the resources to pay for legal challenges? I would rather the town spent its money and time on economic growth and stability rather than on a tax that could impact business owners and citizens personal freedoms.
It is up to individuals to monitor what they eat and drink and how it will affect their health. This also goes for parents who should monitor and advise their children as to what is and what is not appropriate to eat and drink. There should not be a tax on these beverages. Government should stay out of this. A tax is not appropriate. Education and a public health marketing campaign is where the focus should be. I would hope that this issue gets some further discussion and scrutiny before it goes to the ballot.
– Peter Lundeen