Commentary: Why we need an obesity tax

Bob Hubbard

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Commentary: Why we need an obesity tax


  • Story Highlights
  • Gov. David Paterson: At one time, most American men smoked cigarettes
  • He says higher cigarette taxes helped drive down the number of smokers
  • Paterson says obesity causes major health problems and billions in costs
  • A surcharge on soft drinks is a small price to pay for children's health, he says

By David Paterson
Special to CNN
Editor's note: David Paterson, a Democrat, is governor of New York.




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ALBANY, New York (CNN) -- Like many New Yorkers, I remember a time when nearly everyone smoked. In 1950, Collier's reported that more than three-quarters of adult men smoked. This epidemic had a devastating and long-lasting impact on public health.


Today, we find ourselves in the midst of a new public health epidemic: childhood obesity.



What smoking was to my parents' generation, obesity is to my children's generation. Nearly one out of every four New Yorkers under the age of 18 is obese. In many high-poverty areas, the rate is closer to one out of three.


That is why, in the state budget I presented last Tuesday, I proposed a tax on sugared beverages like soda. Research has demonstrated that soft-drink consumption is one of the main drivers of childhood obesity.



http://www.cnn.com/2008/HEALTH/12/18/paterson.obesity/index.html
 

Nolerama

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I think that's a good idea to tax soft drinks, but I don't see that happening.

Does preventative taxation work anyway? I don't agree with Gov. Patterson when he said that cigarette taxation prevented people from smoking. I think health issues, medical discovery, and plain common sense (and the marketing of it) that affected a decline in smoking. Not taxation.

Besides, where would the money go? I'm thinking it would pay for the bureaucracy behind that tax, as well as "research" discover something we already know.

If we're going to tax the consumption that leads to obesity, should exercise be a tax write-off?
 

Big Don

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OK, so that is Patterson's lame *** excuse for why he wants that tax, now, what is his reasoning for reportedly wanting to recall all license plates in the state to force every vehicle to get NEW plates at $25 a pair?
Eighty-Eight NEW taxes and fees and people scoff at the term "tax and spend"...
What would happen if overnight every smoker in America quit?
HINT: It wouldn't ONLY bankrupt the tobacco industry...
 

CoryKS

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"This tax thing is great! You need a little more money, you just raise this number over here. You want a new program for the poor, you find something that people like to buy and slap a tax on it. It's so easy, even a caveman can do it!"
 

girlbug2

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Yep, follow the money. Let's say not drinking soda causes obesity to disappear, and suddenly when that tax hits people give up their addiction to it:

The manufacturers of high fructose corn syrup...the farmers that grow the corn...the makers of aspartame...and of course the soft drink manufacturers themselves would all be bankrupt.

Furthermore, if the overnight quitting of soft drink consumption occurred, and it actually worked to reverse obesity (a very big IF), there would be a lot of doctors who lose business treating obesity related illnesses, slowly but surely the heart disease would decline, the diabetes would disappear, there would be no more need for the gastric bypass surgeries or liposuctions. The medications to treat these would be unnecessary, so the pharmaceutical companies would also lose money. There would be a decline in cavities, so dentists would lose money. There would no longer be a need for diet products, so all those manufacturers would lose money. Gyms and health clubs would have to find a different way to market themselves now that the lure of getting thinner is passe ( January's biggest resolution and the drive behind new memberships). Plus sized clothing manufacturers and retailers lose money...

Sheesh, if we taxed soft drinks it could crash the entire economy!
 

crushing

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My thoughts on an obesity tax: I can change my eating habits, I just hope they don't start taxing ugly too!
 
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Bob Hubbard

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Why NY needs the money.

They make 50+ cents a gallon on gas now. With gas consumption and prices falling, they make less money. Sales tax revenue on gas for example is down around 50%. They need to fill in that void, considering all the special bloated programs in NY, most in the NYC area.

WNY has long said if we left NY, that NYC would sink like a rock.
 

zDom

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We should make sugary drinks illegal.

THEN we could fine and jail people for producing and consuming them.

It would make us a healthier nation, reduce obesity and obesity-related health problems. It would create more jobs in law enforcement (new Sugar Department) and building/staffing more jails.

Grant money to help fight the War on Sugar would be necessary, of course.
 

BrandonLucas

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Ok, soapbox time, so if you don't want to read a rant, just skip this post:

So, now we've pinpointed one of the leading causes of child obesity to drinking softdrink, huh? Yep, that makes total sense.

I was a fat kid growing up until I hit a growth spurt in highschool. My parents allowed me to drink softdrinks sparingly. I mght be allowed to get a Mt. Dew from the store down the street right after school every other day, but it was mostly on Fridays to celebrate the weekend coming.

Did I get fat off of drinking softdrinks? Hardly. I was lazy as a child. I watched TV all the time. I read books when I wasn't watching TV. I cleaned my plate at supper and sat back down on the couch as soon as I was through to catch the end of the show I was watching...and I ate in a hurry, too, as this was before Tivo.

I didn't have a lot of friends to go outside and play with, and, while I was a fairly creative child, I didn't have the motivation to go outside and jump and run when I had a couple G.I. Joe action figures that I could do the same things with in the comfort of my bedroom.

Children today have it worse than I ever did. Sure, softdrinks aren't regarded so much as "treats" anymore, but neither is anything else that's out there. Genetics can play a big part in why a child gains weight, but it's usually not the only reason.

What most people refuse to admit is that the reason most of us gain weight is because we're lazy. Pure and simple. (This is, of course, excluding people with medical conditions that either prevent exercise or create weight gain). I'm guilty of being lazy...I was then, and I'm lazier than I'd like to admit now. It's part of the reason I'm trying to lose weight now, because I've been lazy for a while.

Since many people refuse to admit laziness as the core problem for obesity, they feel like they have to be able to lay it off on something else...and now, it's softdrinks.

Sure, if you cut out softdrinks altogether from your diet, you'll lose some weight, but not enough to change the obesity factor. You have to have the proper balance of diet and exercise to lose weight and to not be obese any longer.

Taxing softdrinks is the first step...the next that I can see is taxing fast food, and then, after that, taxing candy bars, and then sugar itself...until virtually anything you put in your mouth and chew and/or swallow will be taxed. That is the dumbest reason for putting a tax on something I've ever heard...why not just be honest and let the public know that taxes are being raised on certain "popular" items that are hot sellers, such as soft drinks, so that our government is virtually guaranteed to gain money from the extra tax...and go ahead and tell us that it's to pay back the billions and billions being shelled out to bail out people who can't run a monopoly board, let alone a business...but that's a whole different rant.

You can't tax laziness...although I'm sure the government will try to find a way at some point...
 

Andrew Green

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I think that's a good idea to tax soft drinks, but I don't see that happening.

I agree, taxing what are essentially "luxury" items is not a bad idea. the fact that a bottle of pop is a lot cheaper then a bottle of milk or juice is likely part of the reason obesity and diabetes are so common in low income demographics.

Does preventative taxation work anyway? I don't agree with Gov. Patterson when he said that cigarette taxation prevented people from smoking. I think health issues, medical discovery, and plain common sense (and the marketing of it) that affected a decline in smoking. Not taxation.

I disagree there, I think taxation has had an effect. Maybe its different down there, but up here it certainly has. Smoking is a very expensive habit nowadays, people smoking a pack or 2 a day are paying a lot of money to do so.

Besides, where would the money go? I'm thinking it would pay for the bureaucracy behind that tax, as well as "research" discover something we already know.

I'd say put it into healthcare, a pop tax and you Americans can have universal health care too! :)

If we're going to tax the consumption that leads to obesity, should exercise be a tax write-off?

Sure, why not. In Canada that was introduced a year or two ago. $500 per child spent on sports can be written off on taxes.
 

MA-Caver

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It's called "bathroom tissue" now-a-days Bob.

We're still a nation of blaming. Don't fix it find somebody/thing to blame. Taxing ONE culprit isn't going to fix it. Taxing isn't a solution.
Paterson is a moron if he thinks the higher cost of cigarettes is the reason why less people are smoking now-a-days. Those anti-smoking campaigns actually work and people's intolerance to smokers helps too (so sometimes intolerance is a good thing). People are more aware of the dangers of smoking. Making nearly every place non-smoking has had some effect as well. So higher taxes aren't the reason... or it's not the ONLY main reason.
 

Cryozombie

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Chicago has a soft drink tax. It worked so well they went on to tax water too.
 
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Bob Hubbard

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It's called "bathroom tissue" now-a-days Bob.

We're still a nation of blaming. Don't fix it find somebody/thing to blame. Taxing ONE culprit isn't going to fix it. Taxing isn't a solution.
Paterson is a moron if he thinks the higher cost of cigarettes is the reason why less people are smoking now-a-days. Those anti-smoking campaigns actually work and people's intolerance to smokers helps too (so sometimes intolerance is a good thing). People are more aware of the dangers of smoking. Making nearly every place non-smoking has had some effect as well. So higher taxes aren't the reason... or it's not the ONLY main reason.
It's toilet paper, a man hole, and all that. Politically Incorrect and damn proud of it baby! :)
 

grydth

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This topic is phrased wrong from the beginning..... This proposed tax has nothing whatsoever to do with what "we need". Taxes are all about what the New York State government needs - or thinks it needs - or at least says it needs.

We, the working folks and our families, do not "need" any more taxes at all. We need an obesity tax about as much as we need an anorexia tax..... or a blue car tax.... or a zebra finch fee....

The government, after wasting an ocean of money, now finds itself greatly in debt. I do credit Governor Patterson, by the way, with being honest about this sorry state of affairs. His immediate predecessor spent madly, wasted frighteningly and economized only on essentials.

The government would at least like us to think that the extraction of more taxes is beneficial, is for our own good. Sorry, but an entity that spends, wastes and squanders like New York is not who I'd look to for advice on what soda to stock in the fridge. Indeed, higher taxes impair my ability to stock healthier foods, which are often far more expensive than junk.

If memory serves, there are also proposed new taxes and fees on clothes and health clubs.... and this puts paid to any notion of a beneficially taxing government. If a tax on my Jolt Cola is to slim me down, then a tax on clothes purchases is an incentive to dress my children less well and a tax on my dojo or gym bill is the government trying to fatten us up again! Make any sense?

So let's throw away the pretenses.... taxing is all about, and only about, what the government needs. Let's debate it as what it is, and only that.
 

Big Don

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This topic is phrased wrong from the beginning..... This proposed tax has nothing whatsoever to do with what "we need". Taxes are all about what the New York State government needs - or thinks it needs - or at least says it needs.
There is a large difference between WANTS and NEEDS, politicians and small children are the least likely to know the difference.
 
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