Monday, June 1, 2009

To Tax or Not to Tax—That’s a Big Question

Actually, it’s a lot of questions. Liquids make up about 22 percent of our daily calories. A 12-ounce can of sweetened soda contains 150 calories and 10 teaspoons of sugar. Is this tax-worthy? It’s a question we may be looking at. Here’s a question to go with it—Is soda a sin? Do we impose a “sin” tax on regular soda but not diet soda? It seems the Center for Science in the Public Interest plans to propose a federal excise tax on soda, certain fruit drinks, energy drinks, sport drinks and bottled / canned teas. It would not include diet beverages.

There is money to be made with such a tax. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that adding a tax of three cents per 12-ounce serving would generate $24 billion over the next four years.

Now, if this tax is based on sugar or health issues associated with these beverages, we know there are risks associated with diet drinks as well. Should the proposed tax include diet sodas and drinks?

A study published in “Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association,” found those who drank just one soft drink a day—diet or regular—showed increased risk factors for heart disease.

Here’s more: Women who drink two or more cans of diet or regular soda a day are nearly twice as likely to show signs of early kidney disease. The acid in soda can erode tooth enamel. And, any soda may increase your risk of metabolic syndrome. People who consumed just one diet soda daily had a 34 percent higher risk.

So, maybe the question we should ask might be something along the lines of: As with smoking and alcohol, should those who consume any soda help pay for the cost of health care associated with that choice?

What do you think?

No comments: