Proposed taxes on sugary drinks, e-cigarettes and plastic bags aim to shape habits in Connecticut

By Rebecca Lurye, Hartford Courant

From new taxes and fees on sugary beverages, e-cigarettes, plastic bags and bottles to raising the smoking age to 21, an array of Gov. Ned Lamont’s budget proposals aim to change peoples’ behavior to create a healthier state.

The proposed measures are hardly moneymakers for Connecticut — they’d rake in about $36.5 million in 2020, less than 3 percent of the state’s projected tax revenue that year. But the governor’s office held Wednesday that they could go far toward promoting the health and and wellness of the population and the environment, by reducing chronic diseases tied to added sugars and smoking and cutting down on the litter and waste of single-use plastics.

…There’s less proof of the impact of taxing high-calorie soft drinks. That’s why CityHealth, an initiative by Kaiser Permanente and de Beaumont Foundation, promotes raising the smoking age to 21, and eight other evidence-based public health policies, but doesn’t advocate for sugary beverage taxes.

But that doesn’t mean Connecticut shouldn’t give it a try, said David Jernigan, CityHealth’s senior policy adviser and a public health professor at Boston University. They’ve had promising results in Philadelphia, Berkeley, Calif., Mexico, Chile and Barbados, and the evidence is growing.

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