Soda and the Health of a Nation

– watch the video before you read the comments –

The video is referring to the obesity tax suggested by NY Governor David Paterson .NPR also recently posted a segment about a Soda Tax.

The BIG issue that I can see is that sometimes we get dependent on taxes – like we have with tobacco. Why can’t we just make cigarettes illegal? Well, we are making a bundle in tax revenue. NJ makes $2.57.5 and RI makes $2.56 per pack.

What is possible is to utilize the taxation to limit usage but not factor the tax money in normal state budgets. Tax money can be utilized to run special programs or to supplement under-funded projects. But they would not be a primary source of revenue. That keeps us from being dependent on people drinking soda and sugary “fruit juices” so that we can have their tax money. While this is occurring and people are weaning off of sugar we can work to further regulate the contents of soda and fruit drinks.

I also wonder if the tax will actually cause people to change their behavior? I would think that the tax would have to be somewhat significant in order to change people’s thoughts and beliefs.

I know an opposition to this tax would be that it doesn’t have the same effect as smoking does, especially second hand smoking. But I would argue that it does. Although smoking causes the most deaths and health problems, obesity is second on the list (15.2% of Preventable deaths are because of obesity/overweight). Childhood obesity has also dramatically increase in the past years.  Additionally, health care costs go up for all when doctors and hospitals have to worry about obesity. This will become even more an issue if we head towards a universal(ish) health care system

This is by no means a silver bullet. Americans have to choose not to pay the extra money for the new taxed soda. Additionally, Americans have to make familial and personal health choices not to drink Soda to the degree that we do.

I personally, believe that we need further regulations on what food is approved by the FDA, but also realize that change comes slow and often within a process. But if we can work out a plan to tax Soda as a bridge to greater regulation of soda and sugary beverages then go for it.

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