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Would a tax make you give up soda?

Group says taxing surgery drinks would improve health

By Teresa Mears Sep 21, 2009 2:32PM

Is it time to tax sugary drinks?


Another group is saying yes. In a paper published in the Sept. 16 issues of the Journal of the American Medical Association, a group of public health experts is advocating a tax of one cent per ounce on sugary beverages, The New York Times reported. The tax would apply to soft drinks, energy drinks, sports beverages and many juices and iced teas -- but not sugar-free drinks.


According to this group's research, a beverage tax would lower consumption of soda and other sweet drinks, leading to a small weight loss and better health for many Americans.


The group calculated that for every 10 percent increase in soft drink prices, consumption declines 8 to 10 percent.


Writing in Forbes, Trevor Butterworth of questions some of the economic assumptions behind the push for a soda tax. He notes, "while there has been a great deal of research tying soda consumption to weight gain, there has been a surprising dearth of research on whether soda taxes work, even though they have already been implemented in 33 states."


Matt at Steadfast Finances is all for a national "sin tax" on all junk food. "Why should junk food mega-consumers be allowed to contribute as much in taxes as much as the next person, but indulge in a lifestyle that will undoubtedly cause them to take more out of the Medicare system than they actually contributed during their working years?" he asks.


The soft drink industry, of course, is strongly against a soda tax.


Many frugal folk for years have advocated giving up soda to save money. Partner blogger Trent Hamm at The Simple Dollar, once a major soda addict, calculated he and his wife could save more than $1,000 a year if they quit drinking pop.


Rachel Keller at Better Budgeting stopped buying carbonated beverages and juices for her family and believes it makes them healthier as well as saving them money.


A 12-can case of pop, which costs about $3 on sale, would cost $1.44 more if there were a one-penny tax on each ounce of pop. Would that be enough to persuade you to give it up? Should all high-sugar food be taxed? Or is another approach needed to combat obesity?


We gave up sugary drinks 40 years ago and are still waiting to become thin. Maybe we need a tax on ice cream.


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