A Tax on Coca-Cola and Pepsi 'Could Make Americans Thinner'

(Image: flckr Orin Zebest - Creative Commons)

A Tax on Coca-Cola and Pepsi 'Could Make Americans Thinner'

Levy could also wipe out budget deficits of most US states, says health advocacy group

They brought the world Coca-Cola and Pepsi, two of the globe's most recognizable brands. Now Americans - not renowned for favoring new taxes - have been told that a national levy on its fizzy drinks could not only wipe out the budget deficits of most US states but significantly reduce obesity and diabetes.

The proposal from the Center for Science in the Public Interest - a health advocacy group - follows the release of a study last week claiming budget-strapped states, including California, could raise $10bn a year by raising a tax of 7 cents on each can of Coke or similar sodas.

Twenty-five American states already tax fizzy drinks. The new study suggests that all states should be made to follow suit. The issue has been taken up by President Barack Obama, who has said in public statements that he believes too many children are drinking sugary drinks. Indeed Obama has said such a national tax could lower health expenditure.

The proposal is being bitterly opposed by the food industry and their lobby groups. "The tax code should not be used as a tool for social engineering. Nor should it be an instrument for penalising individuals' personal food choices - choices that some government officials find distasteful," J Justin Wilson, senior research analyst at the Centre for Consumer Freedom, told the Los Angeles Times.

"Taxing soda pop is another paternalistic policy idea, which holds that politicians and government regulators, rather than individual citizens, should decide every aspect of what, where and when we eat," he said.

"President Obama is exactly right when he says kids are drinking too much soda," said Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Centre for Science in the Public Interest. "Soda is dirt cheap and promotes expensive and debilitating diseases, which in turn run up health care costs at all levels of government."

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