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Soft drink tax fizzles with residents

June 08, 2009|By DANIELLE CINTRON

HAGERSTOWN -- Richard Graceson, 64, remembers when a bottle of Coke cost 10 cents, a price that has risen with time, but a new tax threatens to increase the price of both soft drinks and alcoholic beverages.

The U.S. Senate Finance Committee is considering raising taxes on alcohol and imposing a new levy on soda and other naturally sweetened drinks to help pay for overhauling health care.

"I would agree with (raising the taxes)," Graceson said. "The way health care is now, they have to do something about it."

Graceson said his doctors have told him to cut back on the amount of soft drinks he consumes daily, but that advice has not quenched his thirst.

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"I drink about eight sodas a day," he said. "And I usually have at least four drinks before I go to sleep."

Not everyone is as supportive of the new proposal and would rather the focus of the tax be on alcoholic beverages.

Melissa Kemp, 39, of Hagerstown, said she has been drinking soft drinks since she was 14 years old and buys a 24-can box of Pepsi every week.

"(The government) just raised the taxes on cigarettes a few times, why not raise it on alcohol?" she said. "I don't agree with taxing soft drinks, but I can see how alcohol is more of a cause for health-care problems."

One woman said she feels taxes are growing out of control and need to be stopped.

Eva Peacher, 35, of Hagerstown, said she disagrees with taxing any kind of beverage.

"Isn't it the American right to (choose) what you want to do with your life?" she said. "I don't think there is enough evidence to prove that (soft drinks and alcohol) are causing health problems."

However, Peacher supports taxing cigarettes because of the amount of evidence showing tobacco is a threat to people's health.

"I don't drink much alcohol, but if I want to enjoy a couple of drinks, I shouldn't have to pay more," said Peacher, who said her family runs Peach Pub at 43 S. Potomac St. in Hagerstown.

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