Why not levy taxes on sodas?

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 30, 2009

If government can levy taxes on tobacco products to generate not only revenue but confer public health benefits with respect to smoking rates, why not apply the same principle to taxing sugary soft drinks to raise funds for health-care reform while fighting obesity? Obviously, the beverage industry has plenty of reasons to oppose the proposal, but strong advocates in the medical community make the idea one worth considering.

A team of prominent doctors, scientists, and policy makers who researched the subject are convinced that a tax on any soft drink with any added caloric sweetener that helps drive the obesity epidemic could cut consumption.

In a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the group proposed an excise tax of 1 percent per ounce for sugary beverages.

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They said studies have shown that taxes can lower consumption of soda and other sweet drinks — sugar-free diet drinks are not included — enough to lead to a small weight loss and reduced health risks among many Americans. …

Certainly, potential health benefits should be motivation enough to weigh in on the issue of taxing soft drinks to fight obesity.

– The Blade