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Mississippi Bill to Tax Soft Drinks

JACKSON, Miss. -- One lawmaker here is seeking to pass a bill for the upcoming 2010 legislative session that would assess a tax of 2-cents per ounce on "sweetened" beverages such as soft drinks, juices and energy drinks at the distribution level, the Greenwood Commonwealth reported.

Democratic Rep. John Mayo, who proposed the bill, wants the tax to fund obesity prevention programs. One estimate figured the excise tax could raise $200 million a year in the state, while adding approximately 40 cents to the cost of a 20-ounce soft drink at a convenience store, and prices for 12-packs at grocery stores would jump $2.88, according to the report.

Mayo's bill states it is intended to "diminish the human and economic costs of obesity" in the state by discouraging "excessive consumption" of soft drinks. The revenue would support a "Children's Health Promotion Fund," along with statewide and community-based obesity prevention programs, as well as school promotion of nutrition and physical activity, the report stated.

Diet soft drinks, however, would be exempt from the tax.

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