Time to Consider a Tax on Sugary Beverages?
April 15, 2009
By Mark Bishop, Deputy Director
Sugar, rum, and tobacco are
commodities which are nowhere necessaries of life, which are become
objects of almost universal consumption, and which are therefore
extremely proper subjects of taxation.
— Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, 1776
HSC hasn't played a significant role in supporting any kind of snack tax, but in a time when tax revenue is scarce, many states are considering a tax on beverages with sugar or high-fructose corn syrup.
In the New England Journal of Medicine, Yale professor Kelly D. Brownell argues that the time is right for a tax on sugared beverages:
Such studies — and the economic principles that support their findings — suggest that a tax on sugared beverages would encourage consumers to switch to more healthful beverages, which would lead to reduced caloric intake and less weight gain.
As the argument goes, data shows that taxes on soda would reduce
consumption and raise money for important public health programs. And
while such a tax is regressive, it's also true that low income,
minority populations face obesity rates significantly higher than the population as a whole.
With kids now taking in up to 15 percent of their total daily calories from drinks that contain sugar, it may be time to revisit this issue.