According to a national poll we commissioned last week from the Opinion Research Corporation, Americans don’t want more taxes on their soda. Two-thirds of Americans disagreed with the proposal that soda should carry extra taxes to discourage its consumption. And over 70 percent oppose such taxes on high-calorie foods, with half of respondents strongly disapproving.
Our poll couldn’t be more timely. Congress came back into session yesterday, and with the issue of how to pay to for health care reform looming large, we didn’t have to wait long to see the presumed-dead soda tax proposal have new fizz added to it. In an interview to be published next week in Men’s Health, President Obama states his opinion that government should consider a national soda tax:
I actually think it’s an idea that we should be exploring. There’s no doubt that our kids drink way too much soda. And every study that’s been done about obesity shows that there is as high a correlation between increased soda consumption and obesity as just about anything else.
One problem: That’s just not true. A steady supply of academic research has demonstrated that soda isn’t the cause of America’s rise in obesity rates. That’s a big reason that further research found soda taxes would not significantly reduce weight.
In his interview, Obama will assure readers that despite people’s fears of “Big Brother” meddling, reducing soda consumption would be good for impacting people’s health. But we’re telling readers of the New York Daily News that such assurances don’t cut it:
The tax code should not be used as a method for social engineering, and that’s what this is. It smacks of the regulation that government imposed on tobacco, but soda is not tobacco.
Here’s a news flash to the President: Soda taxes have already been explored, and we learned something important. They don’t work.