Should we tax soda in the name of public health?
via AP

Should we tax soda in the name of public health?

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Cities like Philadelphia and Berkeley have started taxing sugary soft drinks, but the tax is controversial. Supporters say with the national epidemic of obesity and Type II diabetes, we need to tax soda for public health. They also point to the soda industry's billions in profits, and say a small tax can help pay for childhood education and public health programs. Opponents say soda taxes are tools of the nanny state—and taxes haven't been proven to curb soda consumption. Should we tax soda?

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We tax tobacco in the name of curbing consumption for public health purposes. With obesity and diabetes running rampant through our population, especially among children, why wouldn't we tax a product this unhealthy? 

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Studies show even the conversation around whether to tax soda has changed public perception and consumption levels, which (unless you work in the soda industry) is a good thing .

But the soda tax in Philadelphia drew hundreds of protesters. Some say it's ridiculous for the government to subsidize high fructose corn syrup and then turn around and tax consumers for drinking it. Others just think the government has no business trying to manipulate people's eating habits with the tax code.

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Some also argued the tax harms small businesses.

Who likes taxes? No one. Many people object to what they see as a tendency to just tax everything in sight.

But soda tax supporters make the point we all pay for public health crises like obesity and Type II diabetes. When a health crisis is this intense, the government has an obligation to intervene.

Cities like Philadelphia and Santa Fe are using the revenue generated by soda taxes to fund childhood education. If you can afford to spend a few dollars on a bottle of sugar, is it good if a penny or two of that goes to programs for kids?

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