San Francisco Supervisor Considering Soda Tax
While Halloween is a time when people pass out candy, in the future it will likely be a banned holiday in places like San Francisco and New York City, or any of those places that look to crack down on that dangerous white substance that is often found in small packages.
By the way I describe it you’d think I was talking about heroin or cocaine. The irony is that while some talk about ending the war on drugs as it hasn’t worked, others look to demonize sugar and anything that contains the sweetener
San Francisco Supervisor Scott Weiner is looking to introduce a ballot measure that would levy a 2-cent-per-ounce tax on all sugar-sweetened beverages sold in the city. That might not seem so much, but it actually amounts to 24 cents on each can of soda pop sold in the city.
As the San Francisco Chronicle already noted fast-food restaurants are prohibited from handing out free toys in kids’ meals that are high in fat, salt and sugar.
The question is why Weiner would even make such a move, given that similar tax measures were defeated last year in Richmond in the Bay area, and in El Monte in Los Angeles County.
Across the country, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg attempted to ban the sale of sugary beverages larger than 16 ounces, but that measure was halted in the courts.
Weiner apparently is moving on this as he noted that there is a “mounting body of research” that has documented the link between sugary beverages and obesity and diabetes. He contends that voters are willing to tax sugar rich beverages as the money will be used to keep kids healthy.
According to a Field Poll released earlier this year, some 68 percent of voters said they would support a soda tax if the proceeds went toward improving nutrition and fitness programs.
To be placed on the November 2014 ballot, Weiner’s proposal, which would add the tax on all drinks with more than 25 calories that have added sugary sweeteners and are less than 50 percent fruit or vegetable juice, would need support from the majority of the Board of Supervisors. It would then require two thirds of city voters to pass.
Is it worth the time, effort and energy, especially as the efforts in New York City suggest it would likely go to court?
There is already the group Californians for Food and Beverage Choice, a group that was organized by the American Beverage Association. In other words, there is going to be a lot of money thrown around by the beverage lobby and that is a monster to take on.
But there is another part of this. While it is easy to shriek (like Helen Lovejoy from TV’s The Simpsons) and say “will someone think of the children,” shouldn’t we think like children for a second?
Are kids really going to be deterred over another 24 cents? Will stores have to suddenly “card” kids and institute a “must be 18 years or older” to buy a can of soda? That’s what it would probably take to stop kids from drinking the soda.
Sure, the money can go to programs, but the truth is that kids love sweets. You can ban the commercials and add the taxes, but the kids will buy it anyway.
Other questions remain, such as what happens to the soda fountain in fast food restaurants, many of which have found it easier to allow guests to refill as necessary. Will these suddenly be banned to discourage the drinking of soda?
Such a ban would really punish the average soda drinker, but more importantly it takes away some choice. I say this as a rather health conscious individual. I watch what I eat, and honestly it has probably been a decade at least since I’ve had a can of Coke or Pepsi. About the only time I drink any carbonated beverage is when I have an upset stomach.
I may need to stock up on ginger ale however, because something tells me I’m going to get a stomach ache as these nanny-state types think they’re doing good instead of just taking away my rights and freedoms. Perhaps this seems like a small battle to fight, but consider the original food bans began in the 1930s in Germany.
This isn’t an exaggeration either – the original “food Nazis” were actually the Nazis. Consider the book Nazi War on Cancer (Princeton University Press, 2000) by Robert N. Proctor, who noted that Nazi slogans included the lines, “Your body belongs to the nation!” and “You have the duty to be healthy!”
The most ominous “Food is not a private matter!”
Think about the next time you want a soda.
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