Queens Gazette

Vallone Again Criticizes Tax On Non-Diet Sodas

City Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. has again voiced his opposition to Governor David Paterson’s proposed tax on non-diet carbonated soda, reiterating that many experts say diet sodas may cause a number of adverse health conditions.

Vallone (D- Astoria), who first criticized the so-called “obesity tax” when the governor announced it as part of his proposed 2009 state budget, stated his opposition once more after state Department of Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D. further expanded upon the governor’s plans to impose the tax.

Vallone stated, “Most modern health experts believe that diet soda is as bad, if not worse, for you than regular soda. I already knew that Albany’s fiscal policies were stuck in the 1980s, but I did not realize their view of medical science was there as well. The fiscal health of New York is important, but not as much as the physical health of New Yorkers.”

Vallone pointed out that researchers have published several studies demonstrating the harmful affects of diet soda. Last February, he said, scientists found a correlation between diet soda and “metabolic syndrome”, which can lead to abdominal obesity, high cholesterol and elevated blood pressure.

Other studies, he continued, have shown a link between diet sodas and increased weight, including a 2005 study that concluded that diet soda drinkers had higher obesity rates than regular soda drinkers. Moreover, he said, diet sodas are full of artificial sweeteners, such as Sucralose and Aspartame, the longterm health affects of which have not been fully studied.

Vallone said that if such a tax is going to be enacted, he would call for smaller taxes on both diet and regular sodas because he believes in encouraging healthy eating habits, especially among children. He said he has worked hard in the city council to fight obesity, writing legislation to ban trans fats and supporting greenmarkets throughout the city.

—John Toscano

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