Public health and education advocates were disappointed as Santa Fe residents defeated a 2 cent per ounce sugary drink tax that would have helped reduce consumption of sugary drinks while generating upwards of $7.7 million in funding for high quality Pre-K programs in Santa Fe. Even when we lose a sugary drink tax, evidence shows that we change public health behavior and less people turn to sugary drinks. In this case, we still win!
Sugary drinks are the largest source of added sugars in the American diets, and diabetes has reached epidemic proportions here in New Mexico. Studies have linked sugar consumption to chronic disease such as heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. Nearly one-third of our kids are at an increased risk for developing heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. But things don’t have to be this way.
While this vote is not the outcome the American Heart Association hoped for, the City of Santa Fe has a lot to be thankful for. Mayor Gonzalez, members of the city council, community leaders, and residents across the city fought hard for the health, education, and overall well-being of our children. In addition, residents across New Mexico were educated on the harmful health impact of sugary drinks and the many types of sugary drinks consumed daily in our communities.
While we are disappointed with outcome of the special election, we are not deterred in our mission for a healthier Santa Fe. We will continue to do everything we can to reduce consumption of sugary drinks, which are the top source of added sugars for millions of people. Kids, in particular, drink as much as ten times more than the American Heart Association recommends each week — increasing the risk for serious chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
It’s up to us to continue the movement. Together, we can create a healthier future for all New Mexicans.