- - Wednesday, July 23, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

As the CEO and owner of a Maryland-based vending company and the president of the Maryland-D.C. Vending Council, the idea that soda taxes may gain traction throughout the country is an ominous one. My company, like so many other companies throughout the country, is dedicated to providing transparency for consumers and healthy choices in vending machines. We strive to equip consumers with the information and product selection they need to make informed choices when purchasing from a vending machine.

If either of the Berkeley or San Francisco soda taxes is approved, it would likely spur similar proposals around the country (“The food police trying to arrest soda, again,” Web, Jul 21). If defeated, this could indicate that the idea of soda taxes is coming to rest. According to a recent report by San Francisco economist Ted Egan, if implemented, the tax would likely raise the price of soda by 23 percent to 36 percent. Aside from the valid point raised that these proposed taxes are the latest manifestation of gross attempts at government overreach, the taxes would have serious implications for business owners and their employees, whose livelihoods depend on the products they are selling.

The vending and refreshment-services industry, which is largely composed of small businesses, would be severely hit by this soda tax, causing jobs losses. These soda taxes could hamper an industry that has been at the forefront of providing guidance on nutritional information on products through its industry-led FitPick program. Since 2005 with the introduction of FitPick, the vending industry, through the National Automatic Merchandising Association, has been providing nutrition information to consumers by identifying “better for you” products that meet recognized health guidelines.

We care about our customers, which is why we have been proactive in ensuring that they are afforded transparency when making consumption choices. Soda taxes would offer few benefits, make it more difficult for small business to succeed and imply that consumers cannot be trusted to make their own beverage choices.

DAVID DURNBAUGH

Beltsville

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