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San Francisco Mayor Considers Tax on Sugary Drinks


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For years, the idea of taxing soda to beat back obesity has been tossed around in medical circles. But now, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is proposing a tax on beverages high in fructose corn syrup.

 

Newsom says obesity accounts for tens of millions of dollars in city health care costs. He cites a recent San Francisco Health Department survey that found nearly a quarter of the city's 5th, 7th and 9th graders were overweight and that high sugar drinks make up a tenth of a kid's daily calorie count.

 

Newsom reportedly wants all big box retailers and chain drug stores to pay into his new "Shape up San Francisco" program, which started this past summer with a walking regimen.

 

This comes as the state of California is considering slapping caffeine-infused sodas, and energy drinks with warning labels, saying consumption can contribute to diabetes.

http://www.kcbs.com/SF-Considers-a-Tax-on-Caffeine/1348719

 

Wow, I thought little things like free will and personal responsibility were awesome. Silly me.

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Guest FlummoxedLummox

I agree with you.

 

This is an illustration of the problem that arises as government becomes further entwined with our personal lives. As taxpayers foot the bill for more and more services, government reserves the right to regulate more and more behavior.

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It's not really that different than putting a tax on alcohol or cigarettes. It's a tax on items that may have a deleterious effect on the health of the population. Moreover, perhaps the revenues of that tax will be used for public health purposes.

 

These kinds of taxes are very common, and we've had them for a really long time. As it now stands, I believe there are no taxes on "food" - for obvious reasons. Not sure if these kinds of drinks normally count as "food" and therefore are not taxed.

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Of course I realize that.

 

I'm neither for or against this tax. I really don't care.

 

I personally think the best way to induce positive change in people's habits (whether that means exercise, diet, consumption of alcohol and drugs, etc.) is through education. Nevertheless, it's clear that economic incentives and disincentives can change people's behavior. There's no denying that.

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Guest CrimsonCane

Of course I realize that.

 

I'm neither for or against this tax. I really don't care.

 

I personally think the best way to induce positive change in people's habits (whether that means exercise, diet, consumption of alcohol and drugs, etc.) is through education. Nevertheless, it's clear that economic incentives and disincentives can change people's behavior. There's no denying that.

I don't think anyone argues that economic incentives can change people's behaviors. I think the issue is over whether government should be involved in changing people's behaviors when they don't harm anyone other than the individual.

 

Creating a culture of personal responsibility would go way farther in seeing gains made on these fronts than anything a nanny state-style government could achieve. People are not idiots. I don't think anyone thinks soft drinks are good for their health, but they like how they taste and they're going to go ahead and drink them anyway. It's the same thing with cigarettes and fast food. If people choose to do these things in excess, well that's a choice they're going to have to live with.

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That's probably a good thing, no? Just like the cigarette tax probably contributed to the dramatic drop in smoking in this country.

I highly doubt the cigarette tax contributed to the dramatic drop in smoking. I would say that better education and knowledge about cigarettes has helped aswell as a decline in peoples health. I quit smoking over a year ago. I was smoking between a half pack and a pack a day and not once did I think about quitting due to economics. I quit because breathing got harder and cigarettes started making me feel ill. I dont know anyone who has quit because of money issues. Like Orlando and others have said this is just another revenue stream for the politicians.

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Of course I realize that.

 

I'm neither for or against this tax. I really don't care.

 

I personally think the best way to induce positive change in people's habits (whether that means exercise, diet, consumption of alcohol and drugs, etc.) is through education. Nevertheless, it's clear that economic incentives and disincentives can change people's behavior. There's no denying that.

I don't think anyone argues that economic incentives can change people's behaviors. I think the issue is over whether government should be involved in changing people's behaviors when they don't harm anyone other than the individual.

 

Creating a culture of personal responsibility would go way farther in seeing gains made on these fronts than anything a nanny state-style government could achieve. People are not idiots. I don't think anyone thinks soft drinks are good for their health, but they like how they taste and they're going to go ahead and drink them anyway. It's the same thing with cigarettes and fast food. If people choose to do these things in excess, well that's a choice they're going to have to live with.

 

I agree to some extent that this is probably the government going too far with regulating personal activities. But these activities do affect others. People who are not healthy, especially long term, affect insurance costs, healthcare costs, productivity costs, etc. Is it too much of a stretch? Probably so. But this is not an instance of banning these items. It is an attempt to tax them while gaining some benefit.

 

I wouldn't support this if it came locally. But a lot of people are in fact stupid and have no self control and become so unhealthy that they affect us.

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Of course I realize that.

 

I'm neither for or against this tax. I really don't care.

 

I personally think the best way to induce positive change in people's habits (whether that means exercise, diet, consumption of alcohol and drugs, etc.) is through education. Nevertheless, it's clear that economic incentives and disincentives can change people's behavior. There's no denying that.

I don't think anyone argues that economic incentives can change people's behaviors. I think the issue is over whether government should be involved in changing people's behaviors when they don't harm anyone other than the individual.

 

Creating a culture of personal responsibility would go way farther in seeing gains made on these fronts than anything a nanny state-style government could achieve. People are not idiots. I don't think anyone thinks soft drinks are good for their health, but they like how they taste and they're going to go ahead and drink them anyway. It's the same thing with cigarettes and fast food. If people choose to do these things in excess, well that's a choice they're going to have to live with.

 

I agree to some extent that this is probably the government going too far with regulating personal activities. But these activities do affect others. People who are not healthy, especially long term, affect insurance costs, healthcare costs, productivity costs, etc. Is it too much of a stretch? Probably so. But this is not an instance of banning these items. It is an attempt to tax them while gaining some benefit.

 

I wouldn't support this if it came locally. But a lot of people are in fact stupid and have no self control and become so unhealthy that they affect us.

 

Exactly. Some conservatives (particularly the libertarians) seem to think that individual actions that only seemingly affect the individual himself do not affect others. That is utterly false. In some cases that may be true, but in many cases it is not, and you list some of those examples.

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Guest Night Phantom

Yay Nanny State!

 

I like Coca-Cola. There's no need to punish me for a totally harmless choice to other people. You don't get intoxicated drinking Coke, there aren't laws where you can't drink Coke and drive, you can't go to jail for drinking Coke. Why should you be punished because you like a sugary drink? f*** it, let's tax coffee too. Too much caffeine.

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I agree completely that there is no legitimate reason for taxing soda beyond the potential future health care costs, which are not guaranteed considering how fast medical technology keeps advancing.

I disagree. It's the future health costs that are guaranteed. There's no guarantee on the pace or type of medical advances. My thought is that there is a direct correlation between excess sugar consumption and diabetes. Diabetes also disproportionally affects the poor(uninsured) and uneducated. I don't think medicine will ever find a cure for diabetes, it's only advances in managing diabetes that we can expect. But these management advances carry costs. The proposal calls for a tax on all high fructose drinks, not just soda. Ever look at the corn syrup content in juices? There are options from one juice to another, with the same cost, same taste. The only difference is the corn syrup content. It would be great if everyone was educated on the subject, but that's unrealistic. Slap a tax on the drinks where the manufacturer is simply using corn syrup as a lower cost alternative to juice, and people will get economically educated real quick.

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