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Americans Against Food Taxes
This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on front groups and corporate spin.
Americans Against Food Taxes (AAFT) is a front group funded by the beverage industry which consists of major restaurant chains, food and soft drink manufacturers and their associated lobbying groups. It was organized by the American Beverage Association to fight a proposed three to ten cent tax on soda, sugary drinks and energy drinks to help fund health care reform in the United States. 
Its Web site states that Americans Against Food Taxes is a "coalition of concerned citizens – responsible individuals, financially strapped families, small and large businesses in communities across the country" who opposed a government-proposed tax on food and beverages, including soda, juice drinks, and flavored milks. But its extensive membership consists mainly of lobbying groups for packaged food and soda companies, chain restaurant corporations and the world's large food and soft drink manufacturers and distributors, including the Coca-Cola Company, Dr. Pepper-Royal Crown Bottling Co., PepsiCo, Canada Dry Bottling Co. of New York, the Can Manufacturers Institute, 7-Eleven Convenience Stores, and Yum! Brands.
The group's Web site bears quotes of opinion leaders opining against the new tax, including Tom Coburn (R-OK) quoted on National Public Radio as saying, “I don’t believe we need to tax one penny more to fix health care in this country.” The group's Web site also states, "Discriminatory and punitive taxes on soda and juice drinks do not teach our children to have a healthy lifestyle, and have no meaningful impact on child obesity or public health."
AAFT also has a Facebook page and a Twitter feed. Twitter feeds from July 2009 announced that the Wisconsin Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association and the convenience store chain Kwik Trip had joined the group, as well as a number of state beverage associations.
As an alternative to the tax, AAFT proposes placing the responsibility for decisions about food intake on children, saying, "Teaching our kids how to eat a variety of foods and beverages in moderation is essential to developing skills for a lifetime. That is why we support efforts to provide nutrition education in schools." The coalition also supports legislation mandating physical activity for children at school. The group's Web site also touts that beverage manufacturers have adopted voluntary codes regarding marketing to children.  
The group has a toll-free 800 number, but its fax number traces to Washington, D.C. It offers no street address on its Web site. It's domain name, www.nofoodtaxes.com, was formerly registered to Goddard Claussen public relations, based in Washington, D.C. Goddard Claussen's Web site boasts, "Fortune magazine branded us the 'Go-to guys in issue advocacy' because of our groundbreaking public affairs and branding campaigns, our industry-leading 9 out of 10 win record on ballot measure campaigns, and our history-making issue advocacy campaigns."
The Web site's domain registration has since changed to Domains By Proxy, Inc., which allows registrants to remain anonymous. 
A similar site at http://noksfoodandbevtax.com/ is also registered to Domains By Proxy, but it is not certain that the two sites are related.
New York Times "The Ethicist" on Americans Against Food Taxes
In a September 21, 2009 column titled "The Moral of the Story," New York Times Ethicist Randy Cohen wrote an article titled, "An Anti-Tax Argument that's Hard to Swallow." He wrote,
Such errors of reasoning might be seen as intellectual, not moral, failings, but it is difficult to extend that benefit of the doubt to Americans Against Food Taxes, which describes itself as “a coalition of concerned citizens —- responsible individuals, financially strapped families, small and large businesses in communities across the country.” As was reported in The Times, A.A.F.T. looks like a veiled industry organization; calls to a media contact listed on the group’s Web site go to the American Beverage Association. This smells like Astroturf, or corporate lobbyists posing as a grass-roots organization. It is entirely suitable for interested parties to participate in public debate; it is not suitable to conceal who’s doing the debating.
Americans Against Food Taxes
E-mail: media AT nobevandfoodtax.com
Articles and resources
Related SourceWatch articles
- Jordy Yager GOP, tax groups criticize tax on rich The Hill.com, July 11, 2009
- Carolyn Lochhead, "Industry battles proposals to tax sugary sodas", San Francisco Chronicle, August 16, 2009.
- Americans Against Food Taxes, Twitter feed, accessed July 19, 2009.
- Americans Against Food Taxes Americans Against Food Taxes Facts, accessed July 18
- Americans Against Food Taxes About Us, accessed July 18, 2009
- , Google Books archive of book Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR Is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans by Wendell Potter, accessed February 16, 2011.
- , Goddard Claussen West Web site, accessed February 16, 2011.
- , NetworkSolutions Domain Name Registration, accessed February 16, 2011.
- Randy Cohen, "An Anti-Tax Argument That’s Hard to Swallow", the Ethicist (blog), New York Times, September 21, 2009.