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Akron Univ. School of Law

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Taxing Soda Pop: Increasing the War on Junk Food

William Saleton, writing at Slate.com, is quite upset that there exists some movement for a tax on sugared soda pop.  He states, 

The food police are closing in on their next target: a soda tax.

New York City's health commissioner, Thomas Frieden, is leading the way. He's the guy who purged trans fats from the city's restaurants and made them post calorie counts for menu items. Lately he's been pressuring food companies to remove salt from their products.

Now he's going after soda. Writing in the New England Journal of Medicine, Frieden and Kelly Brownell, the director of Yale's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, propose a penny-per-ounce excise tax on "sugared beverages." That's nearly $3 per case. Why so much? Because this tax, unlike the petty junk-food taxes of yesteryear, is designed to hurt. Its purpose is to discourage you from buying soda, on the grounds that soda, like smoking, is bad for you.

Persuading Americans to regulate soda the way we regulate cigarettes won't be easy. Isn't soda a kind of food? Isn't food a good thing? And isn't it a matter of personal choice? Doesn't taxation to control people's eating behavior cross a fundamental line of liberty?

In their article, Frieden and Brownell methodically attack these objections. Going well beyond science, they lay out a political battle plan for the war on junk food. . . .

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/healthlawprof_blog/2009/04/taxing-soda-pop-increasing-the-war-on-junk-food.html

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