Friday, May 15, 2009

Federal Tax on Soda Being Considered

What do you think about a tax being imposed on sodas, diet sodas excluded?

On May 12, 2009, CBS News reported as follows:

"The Senate Finance Committee today is hearing proposals on how to pay for President Obama's proposed universal health care plan, which is expected to cost more than $1 trillion. Among the proposals, as Consumer Affairs reports: A three-cent tax on sodas as well as other sugary drinks, including energy and sports drinks like Gatorade. Diet sodas would be exempt.

'While many factors promote weight gain, soft drinks are the only food or beverage that has been shown to increase the risk of overweight and obesity, which, in turn, increase the risk of diabetes, stroke, and many other health problems,' Michael Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which is pushing the idea, said in his testimony. 'Soft drinks are nutritionally worthless…[and] are directly related to weight gain, partly because beverages are more conducive to weight gain than solid foods.'"

The link below to Michael Jacobson's testimony is important. He is advocating for nutritional change across the board, which in turn is proposed to help finance health care reform. In order to address the logistics of health care reform, he believes prevention is the key, and I couldn't agree with him more.

Jacobson's testimony can be read here (PDF). I highly recommend reading it. In it, he states:

"To promote health and reduce health-care costs, health-reform legislation should include strong, specific prevention measures. This testimony focuses on employing five long-neglected, high- leverage, diet-related means of preventing chronic diseases; treating serious diseases in a more economical, yet still effective, manner; and levying taxes that would both promote health and generate revenues that could help fund expanded health-care coverage."

His five proposed preventative measures include:
  1. Raising taxes on alcoholic beverages
  2. Taxing soft drinks
  3. Taking trans fats out of foods
  4. Reducing sodium in packaged foods and restaurant foods
  5. "Reducing medical costs through lifestyle treatment of heart disease"

"The proposed measures would generate total savings or income to the federal government
of $38 billion to $61 billion per year."

This could help generate a portion of the money needed to finance President Obama's universal health care plan.

Check out the Center for Science in the Public Interest, CSPI if you haven't already. They are a non-profit advocating for nutrition, food safety and increased consumer-awareness.


Coincidentally, I just discovered a video of Dr. Walter Willett, of Harvard's School of Public Health, stating the direct correlations between drinking sugary drinks and serious health problems like diabetes, overweight and heart disease. Hear it from the leading nutrition researcher of our time, here.

More about the taxation on soda, here in Dr. Nestle's post.


pixiepine said...

I like the idea of addressing lifestyle factors as part of a plan. I totally consider my expenditures on organic produce and healthy foods as preventative medicine.

anastasia_wolf said...

I'm not American but I would be happy for our Govt to introduce this type of tax, however I think diet sodas should not be excluded. Artificial sweeteners are not high on my list of what's healthy. We already have quite a high alcohol tax.

Tobias Davis said...

While I definitely don't agree with increasing taxes, if the people want government funded healthcare (aka, medicaid, etc.) then it makes sense to tax those who abuse themselves more.

Either way, I don't like it.

The Cooking Lady said...

I love the idea of taxing things I do not consume. But let's look at cigarettes (I know of this because my mother-in-law smokes)

She does not smoke in front of any of the family and swears her home doe snot stink. Yet we come home from her house and throw our clothes right into the dirty basket.

A carton of cigarettes now costs a whopping $47.00 and that is the cost in Florida, I know it is higher in other states. Taxing her precious cigarettes would not deter her one iota. She will keep on puffing away until her dying breath (pun completely intended)

I do not drink sodas of any kind, and a bottle of liquor will last me years, so for me to worry about tax on alcohol is not worth fretting over.

People will do what they do no matter what. The cost of a 2 litre bottle of soda can jump to $5 a bottle and they will continue to purchase it and complain about it all the while. Don't complain if you are going to buy it is my motto.

People are in no way ever going to give up their precious fast food, microwavable, prepackaged, frozen, processed items. Not going to least not in my life time.

Thanks for letting my rant, and love your blog!!!

My Year Without said...

Great feedback! I really enjoy reading all of your responses. Keep them coming!

Anonymous said...

Another creative way to tax the people..And it is not like people are going to stop drinking crap just because it is taxed.

anastasia_wolf said...

But it's user pays hey? It's not taxing everyone, it's not raising oncome tax. It's an extra couple of cents if you buy it. And if you don't buy it, it doesn't affect you. If you do, then you may as well contribute to your own healthcare. I'm from a country with a public healthcare system and I'm very glad of it, it saved my life once and I didn't pay a cent. The people who earn more contribute more, and no one is left suffering because they can't afford hospital care. Sure it's not perfect but a teeny little tax on something as unhealthy as soft drinks is not a big price to pay.