A Sip Becomes a Drag

By Andréa Maria Cecil

In CrossFit

August 10, 2016

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The anti-sugary-drink movement grows as an increasing number of lawmakers propose measures similar to those used to curb smoking.

Soda is going the way of the cigarette.

The number of cities, states and countries considering a legislative measure targeting sugar-sweetened beverages is growing. From taxes to health-warning labels, the efforts mimic the American anti-tobacco movement that began in the 1950s. And while soda and cigarettes aren’t identical, comparing the two is an easy task.

“They’re not equivalent, but they share similarities in that neither of them are necessary, and both of them have been marketed heavily and (disproportionately) to minority populations,” said Michael Long, assistant professor in the Department of Prevention and Community Health at The George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health.

Nearly 20 jurisdictions worldwide levy a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) in some way, shape or form—or have recently passed tax legislation, such as the U.K. Of these places, Mexico might be the most well known. It implemented its so-called soda tax on Jan. 1, 2014, in an effort to curb its soaring rates of overweight, obesity and diabetes, among the highest in the world.

But despite all the publicity, Mexico wasn’t the first jurisdiction to pass an SSB tax. Finland, France, French Polynesia, Hungary, Mauritius, Norway, Samoa and Tonga all had a form of such a tax before 2014. And following Mexico’s lead were a host of other places, including Berkeley, California, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

“There’s movement throughout the world to do soda taxes,” said political strategist Larry Tramutola, based in Oakland, California.

Tramutola helped Berkeley pass its tax and is helping San Francisco renew its efforts after the city failed to pass such a tariff in the past.

Policy makers have also proposed health-warning labels for SSBs, though in far fewer numbers than those who have proposed taxes. Both approaches bring similar ire from the beverage industry. San Francisco is in the midst of a year-old lawsuit brought by the American Beverage Association over its ordinance requiring warning labels on ads for sugar-sweetened beverages: “WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay. This is a message from the City and County of San Francisco.”

At the state level, California Sen. Bill Monning has introduced legislation three times that would have required labels directly on the beverage. Each attempt failed. He’s vowed to continue pursuing the effort, the first of its kind in the country. Both New York state and Baltimore, Maryland, have modeled similar proposals on Monning’s bill.

“First off, I don’t think this issue goes away. I just don’t see that,” Tramutola said. “More and more people ... are going to look at this as something that should be done and discussed. The whole dialogue around this is worth all the effort (being) put into it.”

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2 Comments on “A Sip Becomes a Drag”


wrote …

I am a kind of Crossfit stalker. I work out in my own garage. I have limited equipment including DBs(5-50 lbs), a pullup bar, an adjustable bench, and gravity. It's pretty basic. About 3-4 months ago I discovered Crossfit online. I already knew of its existence, but it was at this point that I really started to get into it. I love watching Crossfit videos, especially Games stuff. And I have recently been modeling my home workouts using some Crossfit style ideas, using the clock, rep schemes, and couplets to get my heart pumping. I am loving it. And I really respect the mission of Crossfit to help people from all walks improve their quality of life through fitness by giving them information and tools to better themselves from the inside-out. However, the war on the soda companies feels like a distraction.
I am all for getting information into people's hands. Be it warning labels, public service anouncements, radio spots, or whatever means there may be to inform people, I am behind that. However, I am not a fan of government regulation and the beaurocratic answer to all of life's problems - "Taxes!" I understand that some government is a necessary evil. We need some means of protecting our country. We need roads to make most of our life possible. Limited government has a place. But government stepping in to "stick[in'] it to Big Soda where it hurts most" conflicts with the ethos of Crossfit, in my humble opinion.
When I think of Crossfitters, some words that come to mind are strong, willpower, tough, diciplined, motivated, responsibility. I think what I admire most about Crossfit is the idea of someone making the decision to better themselves and then putting in the time in the trenches. They gather the information, they make the choice, and then they go and put in the work that corresponds to that choice. I believe people should have enough sense of responsibility to know what they are putting into their bodies to make an informed decision and then live with the consequences. I think this applies to sugary drinks, cigarettes, snack cakes, alcohol, or whatever the case may be. If Crossfit wants to go on a mission to get as much information into the hands of consumers as possible so that they can make informed decisions, I am all for that. But getting the government involved to drop the hammer in the form of taxes would be one of the last routes I would be in favor of. I prefer freedom and responsibility over rules and dictates. People should be free to make their own choices and then live with the results of those choices. I personally stopped drinking all soda three years ago save for a 12 ounce can of ginger ale about once a week. I know that it would be better if I chose good ol' water, but I enjoy it and I choose to partake of that modest amount knowing what is in it. I'm not perfect, but I feel good about myself.
Smoking is dangerous, but some people still smoke. Sugary sodas are bad for your health, but some people still drink them. You can be seriously injured or killed by skydiving, cliff jumping, or any other number of extreme sports, yet some adrenaline junkies still do all of these things. I believe the important thing is to know the risks, decide if you are willing to accept those risks, and then having the liberty to make whatever choice works for you. Much like the journey of fitness, folks should be able to decide for themselves what is right and acceptable, and then persue whatever it is that they choose for themselves.


wrote …

Good article and great response. Freedom means the freedom to make poor choices or fail. Too often we see an ill in society and the immediate response is a government fix.

Folks, we are being choked to death with 'government solutions' in the form of bureaucratic regulations and taxes while the circle of liberty that surrounds each of us gets smaller and smaller.

Lets advertise, educate and speak out on the hazards of poor choices like smoking or sugary drinks, but PLEASE no more feel good laws and regulations that only serve to grow the government and shrink our wallets and liberty.

I am a responsible adult and don't want to live in a Nanny state society where faceless bureaucrats or Philosopher Kings make decisions on how I can live my life.

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