Soft Drink Tax Up Against a Granite Wall?

Obesity activist and “Twinkie tax” creator Kelly Brownell is always complaining about what we eat and drink. Recently, Brownell has been going around the country shilling for taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages like fruit juice, soda, and sports drinks. As he told New Hampshire Public Radio last week, getting taxes on the state level is a springboard to a national tax on soft drinks. And Brownell apparently has at least one ally in New Hampshire: Beatriz Pastor, a state representative, is co-sponsoring a statewide tax on soft drinks. She told NHPR why she’s buying into the idea of a government-sponsored weight loss program:

I support the bill because the medical research shows unequivocally a link between high consumption of sugar drinks and adult onset diabetes and obesity beginning with children.

Of course, that’s a flawed premise, as we’ve documented multiple times before. No single food or drink is a unique contributor to obesity, and the medical research body is far from "unequivocal." (Also, the bill thankfully appears headed straight to nowhere.) Both the House Speaker (a Democrat) and the House Republican Leader were flat on the prospect of raising an obese tax on beverages. And the biggest newspaper in the Granite State, the New Hampshire Union Leaderrightly labeled this tax proposal an expansion of the nanny state:

This is not some science-fiction fantasy. This is happening right now. If we as Americans, as Granite Staters, don’t stand up and oppose this dramatic enlargement of the nanny state now, while we have the chance, we will find our choices narrowed year after year until we wake up one day with little control over any decision that the self-appointed experts deem a potential risk to our health or safety — which is more or less everything.

Hopefully this message will get around to any another statehouse considering a soft drink tax, like Mississippi. Instead of taxing beverages, politicians would do better to follow New Hampshire’s motto: “Live free or die.”

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