Categorized | Bronx Neighborhoods

Proposed Soda Tax Falls Flat With Some Bronxites

Gatorade, one of the most popular drinks at bodegas is likely to be taxed if Governor David Paterson's proposal to generate revenue is passed. (Photo by Mamta Badkar/The Bronx Ink)

Gatorade, one of the most popular drinks at bodegas is likely to be taxed if Governor David Paterson's proposal to generate revenue is passed. (Photo by Mamta Badkar/The Bronx Ink)

Orlando Deuras stood on 228th Street and Broadway talking on his phone, taking swigs from a 300-milliliter Mountain Dew bottle that he clutched in his right hand. Deuras doesn’t drink coffee. He doesn’t smoke cigarettes. But he says he goes through two liters of Mountain Dew in two days. Gov. David Paterson’s proposal to increase the  soda tax has met with some criticism and doesn’t sit well with  Deuras. “I don’t think taxes on soda will stop people from drinking soda,” Deuras said. “I’ve been drinking soda since it was 50 cents a can, and now it’s a dollar. I think it’s his way of getting money out of the masses.” Deuras, who says he weighs 234 pounds, countered Paterson’s rationale that the taxes would help fight obesity, adding that it wouldn’t stop him from drinking sugary beverages and that the choice should really be up to the individual. The embattled Paterson has said he would deal with New York’s “inevitable fiscal reasoning” in part by raising $465 million through taxes on syrups used in sodas. A poll conducted by the Siena Research Institute found that 50 percent of  voters opposed this tax. Paterson had tried a similar move in 2009 when he tried to pass an 18 percent tax on sugary drinks. Akm Huda, who works at High-Ride News, a convenience store in the Kingsbridge neighborhood of the Bronx, said he believed that 15 percent to 20 percent of his business comes from sales of soda, boxed juice drinks and other sugar-sweetened drinks. He said that small businesses like his won't be able to shoulder the burden because the tax increases will adversely affect consumer spending. However, some store owners like Gus Guzman, whose business relies only in small part on the sale of drinks, sympathize with the governor. “It hurts everybody’s pockets more, but there’s only so much the city can do,” Guzman said. Shawn Rivera, who sat at a corner table at the McDonalds on 236th Street and Broadway with his twin sons, says he has no qualms about Pateron's proposal. “My personal problem is that this stuff is cheap and easily available, and healthy food isn’t as accessible,” Rivera said.  The 32-year-old, who works as hospital maintenance worker, said he spends $40 a month on sugary drinks for his family of six. “If it was by choice, I would like to shop at Whole Foods, get healthy food, but that’s not easily accessible," he said. "It’s not realistic.”