Diet drinks replace sodas at City Hall ahead of Santa Fe's soda tax vote

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) - The decision to enact a so-called Soda Tax in Santa Fe will be left up to the voters in May, but this week people got a surprise when they showed up to work at City Hall.

All of their normal sodas are gone, replaced with diet drinks.

"I thought it was a little weird. I thought it was an interesting strategy," Devon Gilchrist said.

"If I worked there it would probably tick me off not to have an option," Elizabeth Dyches said.

This week, Coca-Cola switched out some of its products. Now everything inside is "clear on calories" as the sign reads.

There's Diet Coke, Diet Dr. Pepper, even Sprite Zero -- what you won't find are any of its regular sodas.

People KRQE News 13 spoke with said it was an odd move.

"People who don't like diet soda aren't going to start drinking diet soda. I don't like it, I'm not going to drink it," Gilchrist said.

"We know sugar is not good for us, but we know a lot of things aren't good for us. That should still be our choice," said Mary Fatheree, Santa Fe resident.

Earlier this month, the city council decided to put Mayor Javier Gonzales' soda tax idea on the upcoming ballot. If it passes, it would impose a tax of two-cents per ounce on soda and other sugary drinks. That's 24-cents more just for a can of soda.

The money would go back to support early childhood education programs.

Coca-Cola sent the following statement to KRQE News 13:

There has been a lot of discussion lately in Santa Fe about sugar sweetened beverages.  We realize that not everyone drinks soda; some may want reduced sugar and some may not want bubbles.  As people's tastes and needs change, we want to be responsive.  Consumers may not realize that we make many other drinks like organic tea, coconut water, grab-and-go coffee, juices, and purified water.  So we wanted to take this opportunity to offer different beverages that people also love.  – Barry Kiess, CEO, Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Santa Fe

However, some people believe the company is jumping the gun.

Coca-Cola says this was the company's decision, and not a request from City Hall. The proposed tax will be voted on in May.


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