Should US impose tax on soda?
For the first time in history, chronic diseases often brought on by poor personal health choices account for more deaths than communicable ones. We smoke, drink, and eat our way into poor health and then try to deal with the chaos after the fact. As a result, America spends billions of dollars on healthcare every year and children are developing 'adult diseases' like type 2 diabetes and hypertension in their grade school days.
By taxing sugar sweetened beverages, we could save billions in health care costs and help reduce the climbing obesity rate. Much like the tax imposed on tobacco in the 1990s we've seen that taxing unhealthful items, making them more expensive to the consumer, can have a positive impact by encouraging people to steer clear of them. By taxing sodas just one penny per ounce, consumption should drop, along with incidence of disease and public health costs, while the money raised could be put to good use. The potential revenue from such a tax could help make healthier foods more affordable and help pay for other health
promotion and disease prevention programs and initiatives.
The processed (aka junk) food industry is obviously against such a tax, citing reasons like job loss and the right of the public to consume whatever they like. Beverage industries claim that a tax would not decrease consumption of these types of drinks nor would it have impact on our nation's obesity rate. The beverage industry is quick to point the finger at other sources of calories and sugar in our diets as blame for our nations current health crisis. Low income people having to pay more for soda or junk food may also see this tax as a bad idea, when they already struggle to buy cheap (nutritionally and in dollars and cents) foods.
The tax on sugar sweetened drinks is another step in the right direction for a healthier future for America. When public health is the responsibility of the government they have the obligation to take steps such as these. This simple step seems to me to be a win-win situation. Consumption of a product that harms our health goes down, the money gained by this tax goes up helping to make healthier foods cheaper by subsidizing them. Just as with smoking, those who really want to drink soda everyday will continue to despite the higher price at checkout. It's those who decide to not buy pop for their children because of cost or bring a water bottle with their lunch instead that will benefit. Just this discussion will get some thinking about why is this a hot topic? What is soda doing to my health? Any small step with such great benefits cannot be ignored.