Now is the Time to Invest in Public Health

Did you know that on average, kids drink more than 30 gallons of sugary drinks per year – enough to fill a bathtub? The consumption of sugary drinks is a major contributor to children’s increasing rates of type 2 diabetes, tooth decay and heart disease. These diseases set children up for a lifetime of health challenges and have a disproportionate impact on Black and Latino families. We understand now that diseases like obesity can also increase the risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

We have an opportunity this legislative session to address the negative effects of sugary drinks and significantly increase our investment in health equity programs across the state. Senate Bill (SB) 5371 introduces a statewide sugary drink tax that aims to reduce the burden of chronic disease by lowering the consumption of sugary drinks and investing the new tax revenue back into communities hit hardest by health impacts of sugary drink consumption, with a focus on access to healthy foods, food insecurity and health care. In addition to new investments in health equity programs, 40% of the revenue raised by the tax on sugary drinks would support essential governmental public health programs such as infectious disease response and ensuring air and water quality.

Leading social justice and equity advocates, such as El Centro de la Raza Executive Director Estela Ortega, support this bill:

“As a lifelong advocate for social justice and equity in the diverse communities across our state, I am confident that SB 5371 will be an effective approach for increasing investments in health equity by taxing sugary drinks. The beverage industry’s marketing disproportionately targets communities of color - and especially, youth of color - helping lead to inequitable negative health outcomes. The science is clear, and the policy is proven - Seattle’s tax on sugary drinks has directly improved access to healthy foods and other healthy equity efforts. I urge the State Legislature to approve SB 5371 as part of their larger efforts to prioritize equity in Washington.”

We’ve seen the success of similar taxes in places like Philadelphia and Seattle, where sugary drink purchases are down, and tax revenue has funded critical health and education programs. With your support, we can make the same investment in Washington’s communities and ensure that every child in the state has the opportunity to grow up healthy.

hero_image_alt_text===A street view of the Washington state capitol building
thumbnail_alt_text===A street view of the Washington state capitol building
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