Dela Cruz said in a written comment he is not sure if sentiment in the Senate has changed since then.
Ige told reporters this week the idea is to reduce sales of sugary beverages, and he said sugar taxes in other jurisdictions “have really changed sugary beverage consumption.”
The bill cites a 2017 study conducted by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the state Department of Health that concluded a 2-cent-per-ounce tax would result in fewer cases of obesity, fewer deaths and save $59 million in health care costs over 10 years.
“The consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is linked to serious health problems, including but not limited to weight gain, obesity, pre-diabetes, diabetes, tooth decay, heart disease, and other health problems,” according to the bill. “In Hawaii, one out of four middle and high school youth and more than half of adults are overweight or obese.”
All of the revenue from the new tax would be deposited into the “Healthy Ohana Fund.”
An unspecified fraction of the money in the fund would be spent by the state Department of Health on chronic disease prevention programs.
The fund would also finance a nonprofit that would launch new programs to prevent obesity and chronic diseases, including nutritional, active living and farm-to-school agricultural programs.
The justification attached to the sugar tax bill contends that the fee “is an innovative way to improve the health of Hawaii’s keiki and families, reduce healthcare costs, and fund comprehensive programs that support access to healthy food, physical activity and chronic disease prevention.”
No hearing has been scheduled yet for the bill.
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