Monday, February 22, 2010

Soda Tax: Who is For It & Who Isn't

Sugar, rum, and tobacco are commodities which are nowhere necessaries of life, which are become objects of almost universal consumption, and which are therefore extremely proper subjects of taxation.

— Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, 1776

What it is

A soda tax is a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages and those sweetened with caloric sweeteners.


To decrease the consumption of sugary beverages and to generate revenue for obesity-related medical costs.

(The following is far from being an exhaustive list of all who are for and against the tax.)

Who is for it:

Most recently, California Senate Majority Leader Dean Florez introduced his soda tax bill for California.

California Center for Public Health Advocacy helped Florez draft the bill.

The soda tax was first introduced in 1994 by Kelly D. Brownell, PhD., Director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale.

The current Director of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Thomas R. Frieden, and the above-mentioned Brownell argue for the taxation of sugary beverages in this 2009 New England Journal of Medicine article.

New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene

Dr. David A. Kessler, author of my personal favorite, The end of overeating.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest

Without coming right out and saying it, Dr. Nestle implies her interest in the tax with several related posts.

President Obama: "It's an idea that we should be exploring," the President said. "There's no doubt that our kids drink way too much soda. And every study that's been done about obesity shows that there is as high a correlation between increased soda consumption and obesity as just about anything else. Obviously there is resistance on Capitol Hill to those kinds of sin taxes," he continued. "Legislators from certain states that produce sugar or corn syrup are sensitive to anything that might reduce demand for those products. And look, people's attitude is that they don't necessarily want Big Brother telling them what to eat or drink, and I understand that. It is true, though, that if you wanted to make a big impact on people's health in this country, reducing things like soda consumption would be helpful." — President Barack Obama to Men’s Health

Who is against it:

Beverage companies, and the American Beverage Association (ABA).

The ABA has this to say about the tax, "Families are still barely making it from paycheck to paycheck. Adding to their burden with a tax on their groceries should be the last way to tackle the state's budget problems." I think they need a heftier argument. Since when have sugary beverages become a staple of Americans' groceries? They go on to say, "...this tax will threaten thousands of well-paying, New York jobs in the beverage and related industries." Lack of jobs in New York? I can only hope that there would be a lack of jobs in the sugary beverage industry and other junk food industries!

Let's see, who has our best interest in mind: doctors, professors, and directors of major health agencies......or beverage companies?

I can't resist sharing this video:


Maureen said...

A soda tax would be very interesting. They could use some of the money to educate people about how bad it is for you (like with tobacco), use some to replace revenue of removing soda machines from schools, and help with rising obesity related health costs.

But, I agree, the beverage industry really has no argument there. No one has to have sodas. It could force them to make healthier drinks that wouldn't be taxed.

Though, I suspect as it is with tobacco, there will still be lots of people who still buy them regardless of the price.

KitchenSink said...

I am quite overweight (I hate the word obese) and rarely drink soda...maybe 4 or 5 times a year.

However, I don't have a problem with having a tax on it or other "luxury" items for that matter. I don't think it deters people from buying them. But it should generate revenue.

maddie. said...

i've seen that ad before. on Food Politics blog (love Nestle). totally makes me barf.

Fig+Sage said...

I'm definitely for it!!

will said...

love the add.
i've been saying there should be a tax on junk food for years.
if nothing else it would get people's attention.
thanks for sharing.

My Year Without said...

We'll have to follow California legislation and see if the soda tax gets implemented.

The thing that unnerves me, is that if put into place, the tiny amount extra that people will be paying is just that, TINY. It's amazing, though, the revenue it can generate.

I love the concept of putting a tax on "items" rather than taxing people directly (higher income tax, property tax, etc). This way, people ultimately have a choice in whether they are taxed or not.

Paula S, said...

big brother is getting bigger. I thought this is a free country. If I want to use sugar why should I be penalized.

Fig+Sage said...

Big brother is getting bigger because he's drinking too much soda and consuming mass amounts of sugar and unhealthy food ;)

This is a free country, but that doesn't mean we aren't taxed for things. By taxing soda it will give money to organizations that educate others (namely, children) about obesity which is a good thing. This is like a cigarette tax or alcohol tax.