A new report of spending by the soda industry shows just how fiercely the industry has fought taxes and labeling restrictions on its products.
The three industry giants - the American Beverage Association, Coca-Cola Co., and PepsiCo - have spent a total of $67 million since 2009 trying to defeat initiatives in 19 cities and states, according to an analysis of disclosure reports by the Center for the Science in the Public Interest.
That's on top of the $14 million plus the groups spend annually lobbying on the federal level.
"There is no better way to understand the public-health importance of soda taxes and warning labels than to see how much money Big Soda is willing to spend to oppose them," said Jim O'Hara, health promotion policy director at the center, an advocacy group focused on food health.
More than $9.3 million of the spending was in Philadelphia, where City Council in June passed a 1.5-cent-per-ounce levy on diet and sugary drinks, the first of its kind passed by a major city. All but $168,000 of the amount spent here went to television, radio, and print advertisements, the review found.
Pro-soda tax advocates in Philadelphia spent about $2.5 million, according to a review by the Inquirer, with much of the money coming from former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Houston billionaires John and Laura Arnold.
The report also showed a steep increase in industry spending on the federal level, from a few million annually in the early 2000s to a peak of $40 million in 2009, when Congress considered paying for health-care reform with a soda tax.
Lauren Kane, a spokeswoman for the American Beverage Association, defended the group's lobbying efforts, saying they "help inform people about regressive taxes and discriminatory policies being proposed by their elected officials."