November 2nd, 2009
I found this piece on whether a tax on soda would really help to curb obesity or just increase federal tax revenue. It’s a bit long – but no matter where you stand on the issue of a soda tax – well worth reading.
The momentum for federal taxes on soda is growing. President Barack Obama recently said he thought Congress “should be exploring” the idea of a tax on sugared drinks as a way of tackling the nation’s ever-expanding waistline. Thomas Frieden, the president’s nominee for director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, argued in an articlefor the New England Journal of Medicine last April that, “a penny-per-ounce excise tax could reduce consumption of sugared sodas by more than 10%.”
And now, in a new paper in the New England Journal of Medicine this week, Kelly Brownell, Director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale, and a bevy of public health experts, reiterate the litany of studies correlating our increasing girth to our increased appetite for sugared soda. In “The Public Health and Economic Benefits of Taxing Sugar-Sweetened Beverages,” they argue that the government should intervene in the market because people do not appreciate the health consequences of drinking soda and, in particular, that children’s thirst for instant gratification prevents them from appreciating the potential long-term harm.
A tax on soda, therefore, seems like a no-brainer. “If it costs more, people will drink it less,” as Frieden has said. But is it actually that simple?
Let me know where you stand on a soda tax…