by Laura McKenna
In Diane Sawyer's documentary of Appalachia, she has a long discussion of how the huge consumption of Mountain Dew in that area results in horrible tooth decay by age 30.
There's a 7/11 about 50 yards from my son's middle school. After school, hundreds of kids load up on Slurpies everyday on their way home. A good number of them drink Slurpies for breakfast before school as well.
Jane Brody from the New York Times reports, "In the last half-century, consumption of sugars by the average American has increased by more than 24 pounds a year, expanding waistlines and crowding out more nutritious foods." She discusses the latest research on the problems with soda.
Coca Cola and their lobbying group, the American Beverage Association, are actively fighting the beverage tax. They've been running commercials about how this is going to cost working families more money and how they're putting in better options into the soda machines at schools.
Supporters say that a beverage tax is no different than the tax on cigarettes, which has helped reduce smoking. It can raise billions of dollars that can be used for good programs. If the tax money that is raised goes directly to the communities that consume these beverages, then it's not a poor tax, like the lottery.
They argue that a one cent tax alone isn't going to change consumption habits and probably won't make anyone thinner, but it will raise some good money and help raise awareness that soda shouldn't be an everyday habit.
Other ideas include pressuring fast food restaurants to not make soda the default drink in combo specials, removing soda machines from schools, and giving children the same anti-soda messages in health class at school, similar to anti-smoking messages that they already receive.
Where do you stand on this issue? Do believe that soda is a harmless beverage that is American as baseball and hotdogs and that it is wrong to impose a tax on it? Would this tax impose an unfair burden on families? Should government be discouraging the consumption of soda given the well documented health risks? Are sugary drinks the new cigarette?