Edible Externalities, Part Deux – The Sugar Edition

Earlier this week I posted about Edible Externalities.  Well, apparently the Europeans were listening to me

PARIS — Sugar should be identified alongside alcohol and tobacco as a health danger, and governments should tax sweetened drinks and food as part of their efforts to combat it.

So says a commentary, published on Thursday in the journal Nature as part of a widening debate among doctors and policymakers about food fiscality and health

Around 35 million people die each year of non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes and a wave of obesity is unfurling from rich countries to developing economies, say three US academics who authored the piece.

Tobacco and alcohol are already regulated by governments to protect public health, “but one of the primary culprits behind this worldwide health crisis (is) unchecked,” they say.

A levy on added sugars would help meet the growing costs of meeting sugar-related health problems and discourage consumption, they suggest.

Take that, doubters!  Taxes can manage negative externalities!  And apparently, the United States is on board.

In the United States, the government is currently considering a soda tax that would raise the price of a can of fizzy drink by around 10-12 US cents, bringing in some 14 billion dollars a year of revenue.



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3 thoughts on “Edible Externalities, Part Deux – The Sugar Edition

  1. Yeah, what the hell? Who cares if Coke employs 3000 people in France. If sales go down, like intended, and people get laid off…and they will, what does France care? They lead the world in government employees at 25% of the workforce. They also have the highest payroll tax in the world at 43%. No problem. Just keep finding new taxes to keep that train rolling. The market won’t mind.

    These moves will not produce the desired health improvements. Soft drink “addicts” will just reduce the consumption of other goods in order to maintain their budget for soda, and as a result their soda consumption will not decrease. In contrast, those that drink soda on occasion (myself included) and are not impacted health-wise, will find other products to drink that don’t cost as much. Whew! The government SAVED me from becoming a soda addict!

    And we all just KNOW that those other sugary, corn syrupy, non fizzy drinks don’t have any health problems associated with them at all. Riiiight. Anyway, we can tax that later too if needed. Along with Taco Bell, Krispy Kreme, chocolates, croissants(watch out France!), Starbucks etc..

    Sin taxes are not fair to the poor. Rich people can afford all the shit they want. Poor people get screwed on something they enjoy once in a while.

    1. Who cares if Coke employs 3000 people in France. If sales go down, like intended, and people get laid off

      Companies that sell harmful products should not be able to skate by. If that’s a consequence, so be it. DDT manufacturers laid off people, for instance.

      These moves will not produce the desired health improvements.

      Actually, they probably will. The history of sin taxes to deter behavior with externalities shows that they work quite well.

      Sin taxes are not fair to the poor.

      That’s the first thing you’ve said that’s actually right. Perhaps like speeding tickets in Finland, we should figure out a way to make the sin taxes progressive and based on your income. That would make them more fair.

      1. I suppose I could keep a copy of my tax returns handy for those times that I stop for a 2 ltr mountain dew.

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