Opinion

Tax soda, but help people buy nutritious food too

To the editor: Soda taxes are not meant to shame consumers; they are a pricing tool that makes unhealthy choices less attractive. However, the proposal doesn’t go far enough to promote healthy alternative choices. (“World health officials want super-size tax on soda and sugary drinks, but are countries ready to swallow that?” Oct. 12)

Revenue from the tax doesn’t trickle down directly to the consumer. This makes the proposal unappealing, especially to the poor, who carry both the tax burden and the potential health benefits.

In fact, the World Health Organization recommends a more comprehensive set of policies to reduce sugar consumption. In addition to a 20% to 50% tax on soda, there should also be a 10% to 30% subsidy on healthy alternatives such as fruits and vegetables. In Britain, the tax is “pro-rated” according to the amount of sugar in the product.

If the provision of healthy alternative subsidies were included in the proposition, this policy would be more consumer-friendly and weaken the “grocery tax” argument that is resonating with many voters in San Francisco Bay Area cities this November.

Gianna Le, San Francisco

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To the editor: It seems there is nothing that people in power won’t do to take away your freedom to make your own mistakes. 

If consumption of sugar is such a bad thing, then simply ban it, as one would do with lead in paint. But that would take away from the lucrative extraction of money from the people. It is as if these bureaucrats have said, “We have the research to back up our claims that sugar is bad, so if they still want to ignore us, then we will use force to get our way and make money as well.” 

I think I’ll take a big gulp of soda before that’s banned. 

William Baker, Yorba Linda

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