The New York Times published an article on World Diabetes Day about Dr. Esperanza Cerón, a Colombian physician who has become the subject of threats and is being stalked by guys in cars taking her photo. She was even chased by a motorcycle gang. It is all because she messed with a powerful, multibillion-dollar sector that promotes a product which doctors warn can be deadly. It is not drugs, but rather, soda.
Dr. Cerón leads a group that seeks a 20 percent tax on soda in Colombia. The group's graphic advertisements make sure everyone knows the dangers that sugary drinks pose.
Why should we care? One in three Americans has pre-diabetes. One soda each day is enough to increase your heart attack risk by 20 percent. Dr. Cerón isn't the first to face strangely-aggressive opposition for messing with soda.
Chicago recently put a tax on soda. People are literally crossing state lines to buy the drinks elsewhere in protest. When billionaire Michael Bloomberg was Mayor of New York City, he tried to ban large sodas and made it illegal for most places to sell sugary drinks in sizes greater than 16 ounces. A court 'canned' the policy at the last minute because the soda sector is a powerful one with lobbyists to match who knows how to protect its. Almost every time a city has tried to ban or tax soda, the companies that produce it rally everyone who makes money off soft drinks, such as delivery drivers, convenience store owners and pizza shop operators, and tells lawmakers not to do it.
In Philadelphia, business owners claim their soda tax is cutting overall sales by 10 percent, but the soda lobby know how to manipulate data. That's what lobbyists do. Politicians and businesses aside, the thing that really scares soda manufacturers is Americans. The population has been drinking less soda each year for the past decade, which has sent soda companies scrambling to run hit campaigns and pull viral stunts like sending a young girl a Dr. Pepper fountain, after she tweeted that she wanted one. It's the sector's desperate attempt to stay popular in a time where people are wising up to what's good for them.