There’s a commercial out now that depicts a feisty American mom bemoaning the fact that “Washington” wants to tax fruit drinks and soda.
“They say it’s only pennies, but those pennies add up when you’re trying to feed a family,” says the mom, as she unloads bottles of soda from her car.
The 30-second spot is one of two in heavy rotation sponsored by Americans Against Food Taxes, a corporate food and beverage trade organization that opposes a proposed Senate Finance Committee plan to tax sugary sodas, juice drinks and flavored milks.
Proponents of the proposed 3 cent soda tax say it could generate $24 billion in four years to help pay for expanded health care insurance for Americans. The tax would not apply to diet soda or real juice.
With its angry faux-populism, the trade-group ad, along with another that scolds government for thinking about taxing Americans for “simple pleasures that we all enjoy, like juice drinks and soda,” fits right in with the angry chorus of people who say such a proposal is just more proof that the government is unfairly intruding into people’s private lives.
Let’s not lose the facts in all the shouting.
An overwhelming chorus of public health researchers agree that Americans’ increased consumption of sugary fruit drinks and sodas over the past 20 years has been the single largest driver of the debilitating epidemic of obesity currently affecting millions of us.
Obesity – and its related complications like diabetes and heart disease – is a public health issue – one that costs Americans billions of dollars every year in healthcare treatment and insurance claims.
Most notably, the esteemed New England Journal of Medicine, in the scholarly article “Ounces of Prevention – The Public Policy Case for Taxes on Sugared Beverages,” issued a clarion call for increased taxes.
The article, written by researchers Kelly D. Brownell and Thomas R. Frieden, lays out the devastating toll of increased soda consumption and presents compelling evidence that raising taxes on sodas will decrease consumption and cause people to seek healthier options.
Simply framing the soda tax debate as an issue of personal freedom and an increased food expense for families ignores the staggering cost that soda consumption has on our society – check out how New York Times economic columnist David Leonhardt breaks it down here.
So please, don’t be fooled by the faux-populism of those corporate-funded ads.
Sugary drinks and sodas are NOT an American value.