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SWITZERLAND: Coke CEO attacks "outrageous" tax proposals

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The CEO of The Coca-Cola Co. has reiterated his opposition to calls for a tax on CSDs in the US to combat the obesity epidemic.

Last week, New York City health commissioner Dr Thomas Farley and academics from the Harvard School of Public Health and Yale University proposed an excise tax of 1% per fluid ounce for any beverages with added caloric sweeteners.

However, speaking in Switzerland today (21 September) at the launch of Coca-Cola's FIFA World Trophy Tour, Muhtar Kent again called the proposal for a possible tax on non-alcoholic caloried beverages "outrageous". Kent used the same word when asked about the proposal late last week.

"It has never worked where a Government tells people what to eat and what not to eat, or what to drink and what not to drink," Kent said. "It has never worked.

"Obesity is about having a balance, having moderation and having variety," Kent continued. "All of these are coupled with one thing - exercise. Today's children, unfortunately, compared to children of ten years ago, they come back from school and they do no exercise. They sit in front of the TV screen or their laptops for three-and-a-half hours until dinner, then they go back to the screen. This is the single biggest issue."

Kent noted that Coca-Cola had reduced the calorific level of its entire beverage portfolio globally by about 30% in recent years. "In the meantime," he said, "obesity has grown in developed markets. It is a regression analysis linked to lack of exercise. There are multiple studies that actually prove that."

Kent also said that he hopes to extend the company's programme - currently active in 80 countries - to "raise awareness of active, healthy lifestyles", to "every market that we operate in" going forward.


Sectors: Soft drinks

Companies: The Coca-Cola Company

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