Bloomberg declares war on soda

From The New York Times:

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg sought federal permission on Wednesday to bar New York City’s 1.7 million recipients of food stamps from using them to buy soda or other sugared drinks….

Mr. Bloomberg and his health commissioner, Dr. Thomas A. Farley, said the ban would help curb the city’s obesity epidemic, which they contend has been fueled by rising soda consumption over the past 30 years.

City statistics released last month showed that nearly 40 percent of public-school children in kindergarten through eighth grade were overweight or obese, and that obesity rates were substantially higher in poor neighborhoods. City studies show that consumption of sugared beverages is consistently higher in those neighborhoods.

I despise soda. We don’t buy it or drink it in our family. Anything that helps Americans — especially our kids — drink less soda is a good idea.

A heavy “sin tax” on soda — like the taxes we charge to discourage alcohol and cigarette purchases — is a better idea.

But the poor would benefit greatly if buying soda were less convenient. It would send a strong message that soda is bad for you and your kids. A heavy tax would send this message to all Americans. But the poor consume much more soda and suffer far more bad health effects from it. So, barring them from buying soda with food stamps is beneficial, not a punishment.

Besides, why should federal tax dollars, a.k.a. food stamps, be subsidizing a soda-and-junk-food industry that is making so many Americans sick (or dead), costing billions of dollars in sick leave, and costing perhaps hundreds of billions of dollars in medical expenses for diseases such as diabetes?

Soda should be taxed heavily, and the money raised should be poured into Medicare and Medicaid because soda consumption is a significant factor in America’s skyrocketing healthcare spending.

Posted by James on Thursday, October 07, 2010