To discourage people from smoking, lawmakers slapped a hefty tax on cigarettes. Now, health experts concerned about America’s ballooning obesity problem are insisting that legislators do the same with sugary sodas.
According to Harold Goldstein, the executive director of the California Center for Public Health, it’s about time we started treating sugar-laced sodas like the health hazards they are.
“From a public health point of view, it makes a lot of sense to tax the sugar, which is the most harmful part of these drinks,” Goldstein said. “We want to shift consumers from drinking more sugar to drinking less, so taxing beverages with more sugar more makes sense.”
Goldstein is not alone in feeling this way. In fact, a new public health study conducted by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health shows that a majority of county residents now support the implementation of a special tax on sugary drinks. There’s also growing support for placing limitations on junk food advertisements aimed at children.
Paul Simon, a chronic disease prevention expert at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, says two in every three local residents said they would support a soda tax. Three in four, meanwhile, said they wanted kids exposed to fewer junk food advertisements.
That has prompted the Center for Science in the Public Interest to call for California legislators to introduce bills in line with public opinion.
Of course, those supporting a tax on soda face an uphill battle. Some of the United States’ largest corporations make billions each year from the sale of sugary drinks, while lawmakers have traditionally shown reticence to implement any legislation enacting taxes or regulations on sugary food products.