The big talk in my office right now is the proposed soda tax. In brief, there is a suggestion that for the health benefit of the general population, we should put an additional tax on soda – one cent for every ounce.
At first, I thought “Okay, so what? I don’t drink that much soda. And what’s one cent per ounce?” Then I realized how that would add up. I drink around 5 cans of diet soda a week. I’ve been trying to cut back, but decided that a diet soda was a better indulgence than the ice cream my brain tells me I want. I buy the soda in 12 packs at the store. Suddenly, my 12 pack will be going up almost $1.50! Considering that I like to buy the 12 packs when they’re on sale for $3, that’s a big increase!
But the question is, will this additional tax make me buy less soda? Maybe, but probably not. For people who go through more soda than I do, will they make changes to their lives? Maybe, but probably not.
What I would love to see is a tax on junk food used to reduce the cost of healthy food. Fresh fruits and veggies are expensive! Lower fat meats are expensive! It’s no wonder people avoid the healthy foods and splurge on junk food. It’s cheap and tastes good. Why not do something to cut the costs of healthy food (without sacrificing nutrition, of course).
Of course, just making it cheap isn’t a guarantee that people will eat it. People will likely still choose a candy bar over a fresh peach. I think those people are crazy, but that’s just me. That said, if we’re going to penalize people for making bad choices, why not reward them for good choices at the same time?