A tax on sitting? Maybe plain package couches and chairs?

Is it a good thing for people to sit for a long period of time? No. Is it a good idea for people to be physically active? Yes. But should we really tax people to make sure they stand up? It’s the sort of idea you’d think only Michael Bloomberg would come up with. Well, no, it seems.

A study is reported to show that sedentary behaviour is contributing to expanding waist lines and diabetes. That may well be right, but the solution:

The law must be changed to make it illegal for workers to sit for more than two hours at a time says a leading health expert alarmed at rising diabetes rates.

Seriously? Illegal to sit for longer than two hours? Bosses will now be compelled to force people to exercise at work? So it would seem, the researcher is quoted as saying:

“We need changes to occupational health and safety regulations so it is not allowed for people to sit for two hours at a time without a break”.

Except he goes further arguing we need to use the full suite of policy measures to tackle the disease of sitting:

“I think everything should be on the table – taxation levers, town planning, even the layout of office spaces needs to be reconsidered to tackle the growing personal and community impact of chronic disease”.

Certainly environmental factors have an impact on people’s health. But the idea that there should be taxes or regulations on people’s sitting times is just absurd – especially since they only target people when they are at work.

Once again, shouldn’t we be focusing on how to encourage a culture of responsibility rather than trying to apportion blame?

Perhaps we should welcome the focus on exercise, and not just consumption. The IPA has previously tried to draw attention to how both behaviours¬†can impact on people’s health. Perhaps we should plain package couches and chairs instead?


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