Just as increasing taxation on tobacco products is aimed at reducing smoking among a population in order to promote healthier lifestyles, so too will be the result by increasing taxes on soda.
Since soda and other sugary beverages are a major contributor to poor diets across the world, former Health Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy is urging all governments to implement a ‘soda tax’ to encourage healthier diets among its citizenry.
Just as the tobacco industry did with cigarettes, soda companies go to great lengths to target vulnerable populations. Research show that a great amount of soda advertising is aimed at children and teenagers as well as low-income communities.
Soda is one of the most consumed beverages in the United States, second only to water.
Soda’s connection to the obesity epidemic is so intertwined, Harvard researchers have calculated each additional soda consumed increases the risk of obesity 1.6 times.
Incessant soda consumption eventually leads to increased risk of diabetes, osteoporosis, reproductive issues, heart diseases, kidney issues, among other negative health dangers.
Dr Ramsammy, in a statement, pointed out that poor diets today is a bigger problem than hunger.
He said while less than 800 million people go hungry every day, more than 2 billion people consume diets that are making them sick.
Dr Ramsammy noted that for years he has been talking about the need to implement heavy taxation on soda but despite his sound rationale, very few paid attention to the call.
Charging heavy taxes on soda will pressure distributors to pass the cost along to businesses and consumers. Should they increase the price of their products – and this is the straightforward effect – the additional cost could reduce soda consumption by encouraging people to select healthier, cheaper options.
Additionally, a taxed industry will act as an “anti-soda” public health campaign since people tend to understand that product-specific taxes are only levied when a substance can cause harm.