NAACP Should Return Coke Money, Support Efforts to Reduce Soda-Related Diseases

Statement of CSPI Executive Director Michael F. Jacobson

January 23, 2013

My guess is that the NAACP looks back with some regret at its acceptance of money from Philip Morris and other tobacco companies throughout the 1980s and 1990s, and wishes it could take back some of the favorable things the group said about those companies and its executives, the tobacco sponsorship it accepted for NAACP events, and the times it opposed raising tobacco taxes, and so on.

I fear that the current leadership of the NAACP will look back with similar regret at its acceptance of money from Coca-Cola, and its subsequent willingness to oppose sensible public health measures such as the cap on soda serving sizes proposed by New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

No one doubts that obesity, diabetes, and heart disease exert a disproportionate toll on African-Americans, Latinos, and low-income Americans generally. And these are diseases that are directly related to soda consumption. Any group seeking to end health disparities should make reducing soda consumption a top priority. If I were the NAACP I would return the December donation from Coca-Cola, refuse to accept future grants from Big Soda as a matter of principle, and reevaluate the position the group is taking in New York City.


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