Though many had expected New York City to be the first to pass a soda / junk food tax, Michael Bloomberg was unsuccessful in passing such legislation during his tenure as mayor. Fierce opposition from junk food and beverage companies, together with their lobbyists, has struck down all such initiatives in cities and states across the nation. This happened, despite unequivocal proof that junk foods and drinks are direct contributors to obesity and related disease, most notably diabetes.
One group that has been extremely hard hit by diabetes is Native Americans, who are battling an epidemic that has struck practically every family in the Indian Nations. In a landmark piece of legislation late last month, the Navajo Nation Council passed the Healthy Diné Nation Act of 2013. It includes a 2 percent tax that will be imposed on soft drinks, cookies, candy, savory snacks, and other junk food.
According to the First Nations Development Institute, The revenue will be used by Navajo chapters to develop community parks, basketball courts, walking, running and bike trails, community gardens, family picnic grounds, and health education classes. Read more…
As with any type of taxation, there will be supporters and opponents to this move. No doubt, price hikes will decrease consumption. Just look at cigarette taxes. Yet unlike cigarettes, an occasional soda or candy is not going to kill anyone. Furthermore, where do you draw the line between junk food and nutritious chow? How much sugar in a protein bar qualifies it as junk food vs. a health food?
One thing is certain. The manufacturers of junk foods and beverages have externalized many of the societal costs of the products they manufacture and sell. The profits of these corporations have ballooned in line with global obesity. Perhaps its time these companies share the financial burden of obesity instead of us?
What do you think? Should junk food be taxed?