I'm against an end-user soda tax. It's a regressive tax. It disproportionately affects the poor1 and minorities.2
Go into poor urban areas and note what foods are available. Sweetened beverages, chips, candy, and snacks. These residents have limited choices. There aren't supermarkets here, let alone farmers markets. I might go along with the tax if fresh, local, organic food was available here, everywhere, at affordable prices. Let's fix that first. Let's make sure people have a choice before we tax their options.
Also, those in lower socioeconomic classes should have a say in whether this tax gets approved, especially because they end up paying proportionately more of it. I can't help but see this tax as being levied upon those who don't have the political or economic clout to fight it.
And then ... Why tax soda? Why not tax meat? Hasn't that also been linked to poor health? And we know it's ransacking the environment.
Or let's tax fresh, local and organic food. The people who buy these can arguably afford a tax more than the people who buy soda.1 We could use the money to provide more fresh, local and organic food to underserved areas, and to offset the price. We could use the money to increase funding to SNAP (food stamps), which covers only 3 weeks out of the month.
Or, instead of taxing the output (soda), tax the inputs (high fructose corn syrup, sugar). I think that would distribute the burden more evenly. And it wouldn't let manufacturers off the hook.
Along those lines, how about removing the subsidies for growing commodity crops that get turned into corn syrup and other cheap refined junk foods? You could raise a pretty penny there. (Oh, the irony of subsidizing and then taxing the same foods.)
How about a carbon tax? Carbon emissions are terrible for health, and the planet.
The poor suffer higher rates of obesity. This "obesity tax" is quite clearly a tax on the poor. If you are looking to a soda tax to "raise billions of dollars in revenue that could be used to fund healthcare," you are looking to fund healthcare on the backs of people who can least afford it. Is that ethical?.
It's unfortunate that my opinion puts me on the bench with companies that manufacture junk food, or that my opinion sounds like I agree with those who decry a "nanny state." I don't typically align myself with either group.
2 Sweetened Beverage Consumption Increases Dramatically In US, ScienceDaily, 2008
"Among race/ethnicity groups, the percentage of sugar-sweetened beverage drinkers and per capita consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages was highest among blacks followed by Mexican Americans."