But it says something about our country that it’s being labeled an “obesity tax” and not a “soda tax”.1
It says something that the proposal exempts diet soda, even though diet soda has not been proven to cause weight loss and in fact tends to be more frequently consumed by fat people than regular soda.2
It says something that New York Gov. David Paterson isn’t proposing an additional tax on juice or mochas, even though the calories can be similar – or more.
- 16 oz Pepsi? 200 calories.
- 16 oz Starbucks nonfat no-whip Mocha? 220 calories.
- 2 8-oz servings, aka 16 oz, of scrumptious Dole Pineapple Peach Mango juice? 260 calories.
It also says something that Gov. Paterson is arguing that taxing pop will reduce obesity because smoking has decreased as tobacco taxes have been raised. He’s thinking that will sell his solution. It doesn’t; as noted above, diet pop is associated with greater chances of being fat, not with being skinny. His parallel is also off. Lots of skinny people drink regular soda and lots of fat people drink diet – or no soda at all. I myself stopped drinking regular pop in 1985. Why?
New Coke tasted like Pepsi to me, which I’d always found too sweet, and regular Coke was off the market. Diet Coke was closer to what I was used to, so I started drinking that. By the time they came out with “Classic Coke” I found regular pop too syrup-like. I still find it too syrup-like.
Ah, you wonder, but did I lose weight? I initially lost ~10lbs when I quit drinking Coke. It didn’t last. In more recent years I’ve given up diet cola during Lent, without losing weight.
But there is a way to institute a tax that could, perhaps, be analogous to the tobacco taxes: Recognize that fat runs in families. Put a tax on fat people who have babies! We could even pay thin parents to have more babies, so’s to increase their proportion of the gene pool. Toss in that would add an incentive to lose weight before pregnancy (ca-ching!) and that dieting during pregnancy is more likely to result in low birthweight babies who need lots of extra expensive care (ca-ching!) and you’d have a plan that would not only increase tax revenues but would even help stimulate the economy.
1 My state has no income tax, so our sales and property taxes are the main forms of state revenue. In the 70s a sales tax exemption on “food” was passed, where “food” includes items bought at grocery stores but not at restaurants. Milk and juice are considered “food” for the purposes of the exemption, but beer, wine and pop are not. So I do pay a tax on my 12-packs of diet pop that I don’t pay on, say, milk.
2 No causal relationship has been proved between being fat and drinking diet pop – one may cause the other or not. It’s known that many fat people drink diet pop to avoid excess calories, while others choose soda based on sweetener preference, and still others don’t like carbonation.
3 Yes, the sarcasm is strong today.