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Telluride, Colorado voters reject tax on sugary drinks

By Keith Coffman

DENVER (Reuters) - Voters in the ski resort town of Telluride, Colorado overwhelmingly rejected a proposed tax on sugar sweetened drinks, proponents of the measure said late on Tuesday.

Elisa Marie Overall, spokeswoman for Kick the Can Telluride, the group pushing the ballot question, said voters in the town 330 miles southwest of Denver voted down the tax by a 68 percent to 32 percent margin.

Public health researchers and policy makers have increasingly proposed taxes on sugar sweetened drinks due to concerns the drinks are contributing to obesity and diabetes.

The proposal would have imposed a one cent per ounce tax on sodas, sports and energy drinks, and on sweetened coffees and tea beverages. Proceeds would have gone to fund youth wellness programs and activities.

About 2,200 people reside in the mountain community, tucked away in the San Juan Mountains at an elevation of 9,000 feet, and is the part-time home of several Hollywood celebrities.

It also hosts an annual film festival over the Labor Day weekend. The Colorado Beverage Association and its national counterpart campaigned against the tax.

Soda tax proposals in the Northern California city of Richmond and El Monte, located east of Los Angeles, failed last year in the face of opposition from industry groups.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg last year spearheaded a ban on the sale of large, sugary drinks, but a state judge declared the effort illegal after a challenge by soft drink makers and a restaurant group. New York's highest court has agreed to hear an appeal.

(Reporting by Keith Coffman; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Louise Heavens)

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