"We are in the midst of an obesity epidemic," said Daines. "It's become clear that one important factor contributing to this problem is a remarkable change in the amounts of different beverages that we all drink."
Daines noted that since 1970, our consumption of milk-to-soda has basically reversed, with the average American drinking 11 cans of soda per week instead of five, and six glasses of milk instead of 10.
"Back then, overweight and obesity were not nearly the problem they are now," said Daines.
If the comments posted to Daines' video " more than 900 as of press time"
are any indication, many don't see the issue his way and feel strongly about it.
A more formal poll finds the same. A Quinnipiac University poll released near the end of December showed that New Yorkers disapprove of the obesity tax, 60 to 37 percent. Nearly all agree with Paterson that the state is facing a budget crisis of a serious nature, though.
The same poll found that the state's citizenry would greatly prefer a millionaire's tax, at 84 to 13 percent, or tax hikes on cigarettes or alcoholic beverages.
Opponents of the tax argue that any assumed health benefits are just a distraction tactic to sneak in another revenue source in a budget that is already laden with tax and fee hikes (Paterson has said the funds will go toward health programs and nutrition education). The deficit aside, whether or not New Yorkers can withstand another tax while a recession grips the nation is a hotly debated question.
"Gov. Paterson is bemoaning the loss of jobs in New York state, and this single swipe of the pen could do just that," said Craig Stevens, a spokesman for the American Beverage Association, a trade group for makers of non-alcoholic drinks such as soda. Stevens said that 160,000 New Yorkers rely on the beverage trade, from bottlers to distributors to retailers.