Last week they were calling for an increase in the the drinking age, this week our friendly neighborhood Nanny Statists want a tax on soft drinks.
ABC News reports on a research from the Obesity Policy Coalition, the Cancer Council and Diabetes Victoria calling for a 20 per cent tax on soft drinks:
“Even a small change in consumption can have a big impact over time; a small change in body mass index and weight can have a big impact on someone’s health outcomes,” Jane Martin, from the Obesity Policy Coalition said.
“This would have a bigger impact on people who are high consumers, so particularly young people, and they’re more price sensitive.
“The potential to change behaviour in adolescents … who are high consumers, drink a lot of soft drink, that can be very impactful because that can take them through the rest of their life and change habits early.”
After years of discussing the dangers of sugary drinks it is no secret that they are unhealthy. And yet individuals are, for their own reasons, still choosing to consume them. The idea of taxing this choice is abhorrent.
It is also questionable whether sugar taxes are an effective solution to the obesity problem. Drinking soft drinks is not, by itself, a cause of obesity. If there was a tax on sugary drinks consumers can, and likely would, switch to other high-calorie products. This is why various studies have found a very minimal impact from sugar taxes on obesity.
The tax would also be extremely regressive, taking far more from the elderly and poor, who are both more likely to consume the product, than from the rich. This has also been found in previous studies.
Additionally, the amount of additional government revenue cannot be justified by the costs to the health system. According to the report’s authors, the tax would raise a whopping $10 billion over 25 years, and save just $480 million in government expenditure over the same period.
A sugar tax would therefore be illiberal, ineffective, unfair and is totally unjustified.