There is a political ad in Washington state that has been airing in the run up to the midterms that features an elderly women standing in the aisle of a grocery store, pleading with voters to vote yes on a ballot measure that would prevent the taxation of food, which if not passed would make her groceries unaffordable. The ad presents the question as a no brainier, why would you want to starve old ladies? That is until you find out who funded it, Coca-cola and PepsiCo.
Initiative 1634 in Washington would permanently forbid taxes on certain goods and services, including soda. A similar initiative is on the ballot in Oregon. These measures are the latest tactic used by major soda companies to prevent the passage of soda tax bills like the ones that have effectively cut down soda consumption in Berkeley, California, and Pennsylvania.
Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have spent over $20 million in Washington in promotion of 1634, according to the New York Times. Only $100,000 has been spent by the opposition.
Food critic and Senior Editor at The Atlantic Corby Kummer told Boston Public Radio Tuesday that these soda companies are playing into a fear of taxation that would never be approved of.
“In fact, no one will ever tax food, nobody is going to tax food banks, and the soda companies which are funding this are completely absent from the credit,” Kummer said about the ad.
Kummer pointed out that this is not the first time companies focused on sales have tried to use the fear of taxes to their commercial and political advantage.
“It is straight from tobacco and firearms , which started raising alarms among various state residents saying the state is going to tax guns, it is going to impose restrictions on gun purchases, and so you better vote know to prevent the state form restricting your freedom to by a gun or your freedom to buy tobacco; and know the soda companies are saying nobody should get in the way of freedom to buy food at low prices ... it is chilling and horrifying,” Kummer said.