Thursday, September 17, 2009


It was a landmark year with tobacco. The federal government and many states raised their taxes on cigarettes and the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act was signed into law. I guess it was too much to expect for landmark obesity prevention action at the same time.

An article appears in the New England Journal of Medicine currently which is authored by seven esteemed health, wellness and economic experts. They are calling for a one cent per ounce tax increase on soda and sugary beverages.

In the summer this issue was addressed by some of the same authors. Certainly Kelly Brownell of Yale and NYC health commissioner Thomas Farley were in the spot light with a plan to raise the soda tax in NYC so that the tax would be 18 percent. The national average sales tax on soda is just about 5 percent now. Probably the threat by PepsiCo stopped the tax from happening in NYC. They were going to move their corporate head quarters.

Hope held out that one or more health care reform bill would call for the increase which could fund some of the programs that health care reform will likely call for, i.e. obesity prevention in schools.

Like tobacco taxes, there will be a fight and the states will probably act before the federal government does, but seeing Walter Willet on the list of experts recommending this tax has encouraged me. Yale, Harvard, governors and health commissioners, seems a formidable bunch.

Soda and sugary drinks are largely blamed for the obesity and diabetes epidemics that we are experiencing, of course, eating too much is also an issue.

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