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New York State Vending Association Rallies NYC-Area Operators To Oppose Gov. Paterson's Sugared-Drinks Tax

Posted On: 3/4/2010

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vending NEW HYDE PARK, NY -- More than 70 industry members from the New York City metropolitan area gathered at Umberto's restaurant here last night to show their support for the New York State Automatic Vending Association's campaign against Gov. David Paterson's proposed "soda tax" and the effects of the state's new bottle deposit bill on the vending trade.

NYSAVA president Mike Esposito, Prestige Services (Clifton Park, NY), coordinated the meeting with downstate operators John Murn, Answer Vending (Farmingdale) and Carl Gerfo, Vendrite Vending (Whitestone), among other industry leaders. The strong turnout, mostly from operating companies, surprised Esposito, who had expected about two dozen people to attend. The state association, whose full-time membership consists of 56 companies, has been struggling to raise funds in recent years.

The governor's proposed tax on sugar-sweetened beverages is similar to one he introduced last year that did not pass. It imposes a levy of 1¢-per-fl.oz. on beverages containing more than 10 calories per 8 fl.oz., including soda, flavored water, sports drinks, and bottled coffee or tea, along with fruit or vegetable drinks with less than 70% natural juice.

More than half of all Americans oppose a tax on beverages, according to Consumer Edge Research, while 25% support it and 24% have no opinion.

Vending operators fear that such a tax, which is being proposed for New York's 2011 budget, could result in a substantial drop in consumption leading to personnellayoffs throughout the industry.

The battle between the bill's opponents and advocates has also erupted into an advertising battle. The Alliance for a Healthier New York is running ads urging New Yorkers to support a sugar tax with the opinion that "for just a few extra pennies we can reduce obesity, diabetes and heart disease and stop devastating healthcare cuts in Albany."

The alliance lists, among its supporters, the Service Employees International Union 1199 and SEIU/CIR (the latter is the Committee of Interns and Residents), as well as the Greater New York Hospital Association, whose members are nonprofit hospitals and other healthcare providers. The Governor's budget plan calls for about $1 billion in cuts to Medicaid and other healthcare programs.

The American Beverage Association is countering with TV, print and radio spots that point out that the tax would be a burden on consumers. Some ads contend that average beverage prices would go up by 50%.

On March 25, NYSAVA will be in Albany to express its opposition to the proposed soda tax. The association will meet in the main lobby of the Legislative Office Building on State St.

"We need everyone in Albany on March 25 to show our solidarity," Esposito said. "Our idea is to hand out 'healthy choice' items available in vending machines." Pepsi and Coke will be passing out samples.