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Lopsided I-1634 campaign, with millions from soda industry, blankets airwaves

October 15, 2018

The Seattle Times,


October 13, 2018-

The most lopsided campaign on Washington’s November ballot is a microcosm of the battle the soda industry is waging across the country. Initiative 1634, backed to the tune of $13 million by a soda-pop industry that sees a threat to its profits in a growing wave of regulation, would ban local taxes on any food or beverage or ingredient intended for human consumption. The campaign echoes a similarly well-funded effort that took out a smaller statewide soda tax eight years ago.

The I-1634 campaign is blanketing the airwaves with advertisements that raise the specter of looming local grocery taxes, while making little or no mention of the sweetened beverages produced by the companies funding the campaign. The public-health advocates opposing I-1634 — on a shoestring budget — say the rhetoric about grocery taxes is an attempt to disguise the real purpose of the initiative and its funders. Seattle’s sweetened-beverage tax, which raised $10.5 million in its first six months, is designed to discourage consumption and fund health and education programs.

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