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New Haven Mayor Proposes Statewide Soda Tax To Fight Obesity

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Two-liter bottles of soda (file/credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Two-liter bottles of soda (file/credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) - Taking a page from the Michael Bloomberg playbook, New Haven Mayor Toni Harp wants the state to impose a soda tax to battle obesity.

Harp says a 2 percent tax on high-calorie sugary drinks would reduce sales of the beverage and generate about $144 million in revenue.

As WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau reported, Harp has proposed using the revenue to fight obesity in the state.

“I see that one of the things that we can do is we can actually increase nutrition, education. That we can also increase access to recreational activities,” Harp said.

A soda tax would have to be statewide, but has not been mentioned since the legislative session began on Thursday. Connecticut does not authorize cities and towns to levy taxes.

Legislative leaders in Hartford are dealing with a lot of proposed legislation in a shortened session, so Harp concedes it’s unlikely the soda tax will pass this year.

But the mayor said she’ll continue to push for it.

“It is a short legislative session and so there won’t be as much time to talk it through all the various committees but at least it’ll get a good start,” Harp said.

Soda, candy and alcoholic beverages are subject to a state sales tax.

Chris Gindlesperger, a spokesman for the American Beverage Association, says consumers do not support soda taxes or regulations restricting grocery purchases. He says education, rather than laws and regulations, can help fight obesity.

Gindlesperger said companies put calorie counts on labels and offer low- and no-calorie choices.

Before leaving office, Mayor Bloomberg proposed banning large sugary drinks, but a judge blocked the measure.

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