The word "taxes" makes people act irrationally. Take, for instance, this wide-ranging tax plan from New York State, which would tax everything from clothes to boats to license plates to caloric (non-diet) soft drinks.
It's already got a catchy nickname -- the obesity tax -- and, not surprisingly, has already the ire of soft drink manufacturers. I received this dandy of a press release yesterday from the Center for Consumer Freedom. Titled "Taxing Soda May Shrink New York's Bloated Deficit, but It Won't Shrink New Yorker's Bloated Behinds," it tries to make the argument that drinking regular Coke and Pepsi isn't making kids heavier, lack of exercise is.
Doing more research on the obesity tax, I was shocked to learn that there's an entire argument about whether soda causes weight gain. From the above Financial Times link:
A review of 88 nutritional studies
published last year in the American Journal of Public Health also found
"clear associations" between the consumption of non-diet soft drinks
and increased calorie intake and body weight.
But a rival review
of 12 studies published this year in the American Journal of Clinical
Nutrition said there was "virtually no association" between drinking
sugary sodas and weight gain in children and adolescents.
As a former fat-kid who lost a significant amount of weight just by giving up Coke and other sodas, I can attest to the fact the 88 studies are right.
While I'm divided on the obesity tax itself, if the soft drink companies try to beat it by claiming nonsense like a Coke with 120 empty calories entirely from fructose corn syrup doesn't cause weight gain, then New York will soon have its obesity tax.
In the neighboring state Massachusetts, Boston is considering a ban I feel much more strongly about.
Smoking inside public places is well on its way to extinction in America. States like California and New York ban smoking completely, while in states without bans (such as Kansas and Missouri), many cities have passed ordinances against it.
Nearly all the laws have exemptions for tobacconists or cigar bars. Lawmakers always say they don't want to put establishments out of business -- but cigars also enjoy a double-standard because for many people they're a once-a-day or once-a-week ritual, not an addiction.
The city of Boston is trying to phase out its cigar bars and tobacconists, which has lead to a minor uproar. The issue basically pits people who want to enjoy cigars and actively seek out places where they can, against people who believe a city should be allowed to ban smoking in all establishments.
There's something wrong with trying to keep cigar smokers from cigar bars, especially when for so many people it's a special treat, not an addiction. Also, what would happen to the George Burns and Groucho Marx impersonators? -- Owen Morris