Posted: August 5, 2016
The latest attack on America's expanding wastelines is aimed at your wallet, as health advocates and lawmakers hope to tax consumers out of drinking so many sugary drinks. Last week, when the Democratic National Convention was held in Philadelphia, a tax of 1.5 cents per ounce of sugary drinks will go into effect in January, making it the first major city in the country with a soda tax.
Voter initiatives for similar taxes will be on the November ballot in Oakland, San Francisco and Albany, CA, and possibly Boulder, CO. A similar measure passed in Berkeley, CA in 2014. Americans, more than one-third are considered obese, would be better off if they cut back on sugary drinks, but efforts to tax people out of their habit are not working.
People are quick to see through ideas described as good for them, but make little sense. Why slap a surtax on sodas, but not Twinkies? Soda taxes are heavy on intrusion and light on impact. There are better ways to encourage people to eat and drink less. And while advocates like to draw an analogy between taxing soda and taxing cigarettes, the two products are vastly different.
In Mexico, where the obesity problem rivals that of the United States and where per capita soda consumption is the highest in the world, a 10 percent sugary soda tax was instituted in 2014. Initially, soda consumption dropped by two percent, but came roaring back in 2015, rising 2.7 percent and hitting a new peak.
Already, per capita consumption of carbonated soft drinks has been dropping in 2015 to its lowest level since 1985, while sales of bottled water are on the rise.
Those in favor of the argument for a national soda tax say taxing should be done as it is with cigarettes. Tobacco taxes they say have reduced smoking and have raised money to make lives better. Taxing sugary drinks would do the same thing, according to those in favor of having a soda tax. It has been said that one 20-ounce Coke has 120 percent of the daily maximum recommended under federal guidelines for a healthy diet.
RANDOM THOUGHT: According to the July 8, 2016 edition of The Kiplinger Letter, the next big thing in personal technology is Virtual Reality. The head-mounted displays that let users navigate a lifelike 3-D virtual world will see a blockbuster 2016, hitting $1 billion in sales. More on this next week.