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Does Taxing Soda Make Cents or Sense?

February 16, 2010

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Will taxing and putting warning labels on soda discourage people from buying it?  Has this method discouraged people from using tobacco?  Should tax revenue from sodas and sugary beverages be used in anti-soda campaigns or put in a fund for healthier school food?  The rise in childhood obesity rates have the attention of lawmakers, but will raising prices on unhealthy foods keep kids from consuming them?

The Obama administration has a commitment to remove junk food, including sodas from schools.  This is a great first step in the fight against childhood obesity.  But, as Mark Bittman of the New York Times writes:  “a growing number of public health advocates are pushing for even more aggressive actions, urging that soda be treated like tobacco: with taxes, warning labels and a massive public health marketing campaign, all to discourage consumption.”

Taxing soda has the potential to raise over a billion dollars annually in New York State alone.  The question remains, where is the best place to apply this money?

Where do you think lawmakers should apply these funds?