Posted by: audreybenenati | June 8, 2010

It might as well be soda that state taxes — Page 1 — Times Union – Albany NY


By JENNIFR WILKINS

First published in print: Sunday, June 6, 2010

I asked my friend, Cornell economics professor Robert Frank, at a recent dinner party, what he thought of proposals to tax soda. I prepared myself to settle in, eyes glazed over, for some dense econ-speak about why it shouldn’t be done and why it wouldn’t work. Instead, I was surprised.

Without missing a beat and with a calm, matter of fact demeanor, Frank responded, “We have to tax something. It might as well be soda.”

His conclusion is consistent with a growing number of health professionals and policy makers alike. Taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages — those laden with added sugars, high-fructose corn syrup or fruit juice concentrate (without fruit juice) — is too logical to ignore. It addresses the critical need to raise revenue in cash-strapped states like New York while taking a step toward tackling a major public health crisis of today, namely obesity.

Kelly Brownell, director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University, estimates that adding a penny per ounce to the existing surcharges on soda, would raise about $150 billion nationally over the next 10 years. Plug a one-cent tax per ounce into the Rudd Center’s online Revenue Calculator for Soft Drink Taxes, and an estimated annual $937 million for New York pops up. That would amount to much needed relief for a state with a $9.2 billion budget deficit.

Increasing state revenue, while attractive enough, might be a non-starter without compelling argument on the public health side of the equation. Why soda? Because we guzzle it. From a health standpoint, it does more harm than good… It might as well be soda that state taxes — Page 1 — Times Union – Albany NY.

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