Soda Tax: It's the Real Thing
AS CALLS mount for soda to be taxed because of its link to the nation's
obesity epidemic, Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent tried this week to tar
the tax as socialist, taking a page from the Republicans single-word
playbook against health care reform, bailouts, and even President
Obama's back-to-school speeches.
Kent told the Rotary Club of Atlanta that proposals to tax sugary
drinks and trash food were "outrageous'' because "I've never seen
it work where a government tells people what to eat and what to drink.''
Kent added, "If it worked, the Soviet Union would still be around.''
Kent is clearly worried because Obama, in the current issue of Men's
Health, said soda taxes should be explored. "There's no doubt that
our kids drink way too much soda,'' Obama said. "And every study that's
been done about obesity shows that there is a high correlation between
increased soda consumption and obesity.''
Obama acknowledged that taxes would be resisted by the soda industry
and their political enablers. But he said, "If you wanted to make
a big impact on people's health in this country, reducing things like
soda consumption would be helpful.''
It is ironic for Coca Cola to complain about Big Brother when the
company has so thoroughly brainwashed the world. Coke and the other
soft drink makers (this includes sports/energy drinks) have seduced
Americans to double their daily intake of calories from sugar water
since the late 1970s, fueling a tripling of obesity among youth 12
to 19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In saying he wants to double the global servings of Coke products
to over 3 billion a day by 2020, Kent boasted to the Rotary Club of
a new $200 million investment in a plant in communist Vietnam!
In further hypocrisy, Kent spoke loftily of the average life expectancy
increasing by five years by 2020 because of advanced medicine and
biotech. Never mind the 2005 report in the New England Journal of
Medicine that warned that unchecked obesity trends could slash up
to five years off American life expectancy, the first sustained drop
in modern times.
This has medical experts calling for taxes on soft drinks and trash
food. No less than the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies
this month recommended "a tax strategy to discourage consumption of
foods and beverages that have minimal nutritional value, such as sugar-sweetened
beverages.'' The Institute also recommended steps echoing those taken
against tobacco: Advertising and marketing bans near schools; zoning
restrictions for fast food joints near schools and playgrounds; overall
community limits on the density of fast food restaurants; and promoting
candy-free checkout aisles.
This week, UCLA health policy researchers called for taxes and fees
on sweetened drinks after a new study linked soda and obesity to $21
billion in health care costs in California. In the current New England
Journal of Medicine, seven leading physicians and researchers proposed
a penny-per-ounce tax on sweetened beverages. They estimate that a
10 percent rise in the price of soda leads to about a 10 percent decline
in consumption. The lead author, Kelly Brownell of Yale University's
Rudd Center for Food Policy, coauthored an article in the same journal
in April with then-New York City health commissioner Thomas Frieden
saying such taxes, like tobacco taxes, could be a "key tool in efforts
to improve health.''
Obama eventually picked Frieden to run the CDC. By declaring himself
open to trash food taxes, Obama understands how obesity now costs
America $147 billion a year, nearly 10 percent of our health care
spending. But the soft drink industry has no regard for costs. Lobbying
by Coca-Cola, about $1 million a year from 1998 to 2006, zoomed to
$1.7 million in 2007, $2.5 million last year and was at the $1.2 million
mark halfway through this year, according to the Center for Responsive
Politics. The American Beverage Association, which spent $667,590
in 2008 on lobbying, has already spent $1,340,000 through the first
six months of this year and launched a $2 million ad campaign against
Coke wants to double global beverage servings as American teen obesity
has tripled. This is now a wanton attack on the health of children.
Taxing Coke is not communism. It is common sense.
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