General Question

aidje's avatar

What do you think of the proposed soda tax?

Asked by aidje (3652points) May 14th, 2009

Soda Tax Weighed to Pay for Health Care and
Time for Soda Tax? Backers Want to Cut Obesity, Aid Budgets

Do you think that it’s appropriate for the government to attempt to influence people’s dietary choices in this way?
Do you think that the proposed tax is unfair to those with lower incomes?
Do you think that this is something that should have happened a long time ago?
Do you think that such a tax would have a positive impact on the health of the people, or would people simply waste more of their money on soda?
Do you think that it’s important/right/wrong to tax bad habits?
Do you think that Obama’s proposed health care changes require or would benefit from this type of tax?

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52 Answers

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I think it’s great – it gives us necessary money and it will help fight the obesity epidemic

_bob's avatar

Ain’t gonna happen.

3or4monsters's avatar

Fantastic, if it were to happen.

jbfletcherfan's avatar

I haven’t heard of this! It’ll be something to watch.

purplelow's avatar

the skinny people shouldn’t suffer because of the obesity problem… and if there is a tax on just soda how is that suppose to help if anything start with our food industry

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@skinny people wont’ stay that way if they guzzle down 24 spoons of sugar with each soda – putting themselves at risk and later on the way to straining our healthcare system

tinyfaery's avatar

Bullshit! My 110 pound cousin drinks about 3 Cokes a day, eats candy, and can eat as much as a truck driver. Let’s start taxing Doritos and ice cream while were at it. I’m sure all of those multi-national conglomerates will have absolutely no problem with it.

spresto's avatar

I think it is time for a revolt. Soda taxes is the last straw for me down with taxing.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@tinyfaery good for your cousin
but she’s an exception, not the rule

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

I don’t like the idea in the first place of public healthcare money (my tax money too) going towards the treatment of people who don’t actively take care of their own health so if this in any way helps reduce obesity, diabetes, whatever then I’m fine with it.

tinyfaery's avatar

So. Not everyone is fat because of soda. That’s just stupid.

_bob's avatar

@tinyfaery Just to be sure, your cousin isn’t, like, 8 or something, right?

tinyfaery's avatar

38 year old female with 3 kids.

spresto's avatar

@tinyfaery Wait wait wait. Fat is just what people are. You make it sound like a choice. Thats bullshit. I can’t believe a lesbian would say such a thing.

jrpowell's avatar

California has had a junk food tax for years. We tax the fuck out of booze and smokes. I don’t get the outrage.

(A pack of smokes just went up a dollar here)

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@tinyfaery of course not, but many are
given the economy and the terrible state our healthcare is, i say it’s a small sacrifice as no one should consume soda anyway

jlm11f's avatar

I am all for it.

Do you think that it’s appropriate for the government to attempt to influence people’s dietary choices in this way? – When it is to combat something as important as the obesity epidemic, yep.
Do you think that the proposed tax is unfair to those with lower incomes? – I think it would help those with lower incomes save more money in the end.
Do you think that this is something that should have happened a long time ago? – Yes.
Do you think that such a tax would have a positive impact on the health of the people, or would people simply waste more of their money on soda? – I hope so (for the former).
Do you think that it’s important/right/wrong to tax bad habits? – This is not a “bad habit”. It is not like someone is incompetent at taking out the trash and so you are taxing them. This is to help improve someone’s health and thus help them have a better and more active life.

3or4monsters's avatar

Nobody is twisting anybody’s arm and making them pay a tax on something they need. They can CHOOSE to buy soda or they can choose not to. Nobody really “needs” soda.

I also believe that so many of our diseases come from poor food and drink choices, and the ripple effect puts a burden on the society as a whole. This isn’t an attack on fat people, because thin people who eat junk food all day still have health problems too—- hardened arteries aren’t visible to the naked eye, and still cost thousands of dollars in medical coverage when it finally catches up with a person. Skinny people who drink/eat garbage are just as much of a drain on society’s resources as bigger people who eat and drink poorly.

The problem I have with this kind of lifestyle is that it’s PREVENTABLE but our health insurance payments go up because of the poor decisions of others. It doesn’t matter that I won’t drink soda, shun junk food, and exercise daily——the lifestyle choices of others tap my bank account anyways.

If I can get out from under it, even just a little, by this soda tax, then I’m ALL FOR IT. It chaps my ass to hear someone who gets their 3rd bypass surgery but refuses to change their lifestyle, when there are legitimately unwell people with heart problems out there that didn’t bring their problems down on themselves. I’m all for my money going to help them…

Amish_Ninja's avatar

Ha! Taxing soda wouldn’t do much good for the economy. People could stop drinking sodas, people working in those jobs or jobs affected by those companies by losing their jobs since there’s not that much of a demand if you tax it. So you have just made a ton of people lose their jobs and you would have to tax any unhealthy thing in this world.

It’s hypocritical not to ban everything that has a negitive effect on your health. With this tax, poeple addicted to sugar would spend the money that could go to buying more healthy foods and visits to the doctor, on the food that addicted them in the first place.

In my opinion, this is going to be just as bad as the tabbaco prices rising. People won’t stop using the products, they’ll just use the money on the unhealthy product without counseling to go with the tax and help people live a much healthier lifestyle.

El_Cadejo's avatar

Seriously?! I mean do they seriously think it will fight obesity? LOL Cause i mean when they put a tax on cigarettes and then raised it, and raised it again and again, ALL THOSE PEOPLE QUIT SMOKING! oh wait a minute…. no… they didnt. People are going to do what they want to do.

Soda is bad for you, im not arguing that, but if i chose to consume it, my choice, the government can fuck off. And adding taxes on it just because its unhealthy is bs, are we going to start adding taxes onto mcdonalds and burger king too while we’re at it?

If obesity is really the concern and this isnt just another bullshit way to take more money out of our pockets, why doesn’t the government put more regulations on the soda producers? Why not force them to use less additives, less sugar, and make more natural drinks?

casheroo's avatar

Hmm, well I usually only drink natural sodas…will they all be taxed? My brother is a Pepsi fiend, and he’s a stick…obviously soda is not the cause of obseity. It is a factor though.

RedPowerLady's avatar

I think taxing foods is ridiculous. It is quite unfair for those who are of a low economic status. Where does it stop? What is classified as junk food? It is increasing the gap between the rich and the poor and has more overwhelming effects than are being mentioned.

Soda, even though I drink it often, I could really care less about. It isn’t the soda issue that bothers me. It is the taxation of FOOD. How about making produce cheaper then?

And if we are discussing fighting obesity then there are many other much more productive ways of fighting obesity. How about nutritional education? One thing my county just did was allow food stamps at the farmers market. Now That is a step in the right direction.

Oh and let’s get real. It’s about making money. It is not about fighting obesity.

@uberbatman I agree!

aidje's avatar

@PnL If you think that soda causes obesity, why would you not label soda consumption as a bad habit? When I ask about the taxation of bad habits, I’m also talking about the way that the government taxes cigarettes and alcohol. I am speaking of the category of things that the governments taxes in an attempt to reduce how much people use/do them. So that question was not about soda specifically.

BookReader's avatar

…revamping entire system is preferred..

RedPowerLady's avatar

@aidje I am speaking of the category of things that the governments taxes in an attempt to reduce how much people use/do them

They don’t tax these things to decrease consumption.

@BookReader Agreed!

Darwin's avatar

So will they tax diet soda as much as soda full of corn syrup and calories? What about sodas containing phosphoric acid (colas and Dr. Pepper clones) or caramel coloring, which is bad for your kidneys? Will they be taxed more than sodas that contain citric acid or that are clear?

And what about taxing butter or mayonnaise or cookies and candy?

I can see a huge can of worms being opened here.

tinyfaery's avatar

@spresto What? How have some serious issues with assumptions and reading things into a comment that are just not there.

rooeytoo's avatar

What ever happened to personal accountability? I hate the idea of having everything legislated either by taxation or other ways. It is like saying that people are too stupid to know that soda is fattening. I think people know and choose to drink it anyhow, I know I do. And why not tax candy bars, and french fries and all fattening foods, why just soda?

Oops I see Darwin said the same thing, I agree, it is crazy.

Darwin's avatar

@rooeytoo – It’s okay – I forgot about french fries but you didn’t.

tinyfaery's avatar

Yes, let’s tax ALL junk food. American business will just increase if that happens.~ Think this through people.

Facade's avatar

Sounds fantastic. The sugar, food coloring, carbonation, etc. is horrible for the body anyway.

aidje's avatar

@RedPowerLady From the second article I linked to: “A tax on sodas of a penny an ounce could lead to a drastic reduction in consumption of such sugary drinks, says a piece in today’s New England Journal of Medicine. One study cited in the article found that a 10% increase in price leads to a 7.8% decrease in the amount people drink.”

So yes, reducing consumption is the point.

bea2345's avatar

If the idea is to raise the government’s income, they will find a way to tax anything. But if the notion is social engineering – getting people to drink fewer sodas – the tax may not work. It did not work with tobacco or alcohol – come to think of it, it did not work with illegal drugs either. What might work is a eat more sensibly campaign, with prizes going to the town, county, etc. that showed the greatest improvement in the community’s health after, say, 5 years. This is the kind of programme that can have grassroots appeal, especially if it is linked to the proliferation of farmers’ markets and home box gardening and the like. And the prizes could be things that communities really want, like a new water purification plant, a new hospital, etc.

shilolo's avatar

Actually, it appears that taxes on cigarettes do work, though studies don’t necessarily account for black market purchases (which might go up to compensate for real market changes). I think a tax on soda might actually help reduce childhood obesity, which is a growing national problem. Even a small dent in the empty calories people consume would help.

rooeytoo's avatar

In Australia they put a substantial tax on alcopops (booze and soda in a can) because it seems these drinks were being abused by teenaged female consumers. What happened was that the wily young drunks started buying a 2 litre bottle of soda and a whole bottle of rum or whatever and drank twice as much at half the price.

There is a political battle going on now about whether it will be continued or not.

Kids seem to have an amazing amount of money in their pockets these days, I think they will pay the price if they want it.

shilolo's avatar

@rooeytoo It isn’t the kids that are the problem. It’s the parents….

rooeytoo's avatar

@shilolo – It’s irrelevant really who is the problem, the problem exists. Now should we legislate the level and quality of parenting? It is already illegal in a lot of places to discipline your child, how does that figure into the picture? Will there be a handbook, like you may speak forcibly but not yell or curse, you may not smack or grab by the shoulder with more than 3 pounds of pressure??

It is a crazy world, but saying it is the fault of one and not the other, doesn’t get us very far, at least that is my humble opinion.

cak's avatar

I think we’re headed into very dangerous territory when we start taxing soda. We’ll need to make a list of all the other foods that are dangerous or may lead to obesity (lots of good for you foods will be on that list!) if over consumed.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@aidje I disagree and I think many others do as well as they have stated so in this conversation. The point is making money. AND I also disagree that it will reduce consumption at a level that will be significant to obesity. Also even if it did decrease it would be among the low-income individuals which is a bit “unfair”. I also want to say even if the real point was reducing consumption it is probably one of the poorest ideas in regards to reducing consumption. I guess education is at the bottom of our cultural list. There you have it. My two cents. No doubt you disagree.

Darwin's avatar

Well, whatever happens, let’s never tax doughnuts. Now those are essential food.

SquirrelEStuff's avatar

I have a few problems with this.
The Federal government has given subsidies, totaling over $40 Billion since the mid-90’s, to corn growers. Since 1976, the obesity rate in the US has quadrupled an high fructose corn syrup consumption has risen proportionally. So the government gives money to the producers of the cause of the obesity and then taxes we the people, who may consume the product that they helped pay for.

The first article mentions that the tax will not apply to most diet beverages.
This article mentions the fact that diet drinks do not lead to weight loss and can actually do the opposite. And we can debate the health risks associated with the artificial sweetener, aspartame all night, but from everything Ive read about it, I stay away. So the fact that it is a “fat tax,” but doesn’t apply to diet soda just because the word diet appears on the bottle, shows that some lawmakers aren’t doing there homework.

aidje's avatar

@RedPowerLady Actually, I don’t disagree with you. Also, I’m sorry that I was not more clear: I would not be surprised if the real reason for such a tax would be to make money. But I didn’t want to voice any assumptions about motivation (since that is something that we can guess or assume, but not actually know) and so I was pointing out that the purported purpose was to reduce consumption. I think you and I agree in that I do not think that it would have much of an effect on consumption. I think that most people would simply spend the money on the tax.

Here’s how I see it: governments want money. They can get money by taxing things. Many taxation options would not be very popular, and so governments try to tax things that will not make people angry. If they can tax something that many people disapprove of, such as cigarettes or alcohol, then those people will actually be happy about the new tax. The same goes for anything that many people believe should be consumed less, whether it be for health or moral reasons, if those same people can be convinced that the new tax might cause people to reduce their consumption of such things. So it can be an effective way for a government to bring in a little more revenue while making people excited rather than upset about the new tax. Instead of being viewed as money grubbers, the government has the chance be seen as the benevolent overseer, helping the people to overcome their vices. All they have to do is get the people to buy into it. And if they don’t, well… they have to pay the tax anyway.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@aidje Thank you for clearing that up. I do think you are spot on about the need to get people to buy into it and the reasoning behind the specific taxation.

Although I’d rather just pay a straight tax than have the government start taxing foods. I think it gets into Grey territory.

CMaz's avatar

It gives me gas….

mass_pike4's avatar

tax things that are not necessary….hhmm good idea. Soda, as well as alcohol and cigarettes, are all getting taxed and they should be. All should be done in moderation and used as a “treat.” Americans abuse these too much and it’s money that we waste in the millions every year. So I say why not tax soda. Drink water. Safe well water

Kraken's avatar

5 cents a bottle / can / etc… as long as the tax is directed toward soda pop related maladies then it it truly is a just and proper tax.

EverRose11's avatar

I believe it is just another example of living in the land of the free and brave is no longer true, ever so slowly and right in front of our eyes our rights have been slowly striped away .

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