Hawaii Proposes Tax on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages
Hawaii Governor David Ige (D.) has introduced House Bill 994 (HB-994) and its companion Senate Bill 1148 (SB-1148), which would require manufacturers or wholesale dealers of sugar-sweetened beverages, as well as sugary syrups or powders for beverages, to pay a two cents per fluid ounce fee. Governor Ige stated that these bills aim to lower consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and thereby prevent weight gain, obesity, prediabetes, diabetes, tooth decay, and heart disease in the state.
Under HB-994 and SB-1148, a “sugar-sweetened beverage” is defined as any non-alcoholic beverage, carbonated or noncarbonated, that is intended for human consumption and contains any added “caloric sweetener.” The bills define a caloric sweetener as “any substance that contains calories suitable for human consumption, that humans perceive as sweet, and includes, sucrose, fructose, glucose, other sugars, or fruit juice concentrates.” Beverages that consist of one hundred percent fruit juice or vegetable juice with no added caloric sweetener, milk without added caloric sweetener, milk substitutes without added caloric sweetener, dietary aids, and infant formula would not be subject to the fee.
Hawaii has tried to pass similar legislation in previous years, but the bills have expired before making it through the full legislative process. Cities, including Philadelphia and Berkeley, have introduced similar measures in the past, and there are mixed opinions on whether the measures have been effective.