The ethics of soda taxation

Had a great PUBH 840 class this week talking about the ethics of public health intervention. We used an NYC 32oz soda tax article published in the New York Times and a paper published by Upshur in the Canadian Journal of Public Health as a case study of whether the 32oz soda ban was justifiable ethically.

Now a student sent me this article that a coalition in Alberta wants to tax sugar sweetened beverages:

The coalition said it would like to see a 50-cent per-litre consumption levy on sugary drinks including soda, energy drinks, sports drinks and fruit drinks with added sugars like high-fructose corn syrup. That means a typical can of pop would cost about 18-cents more in a single purchase…

The coalition estimates that with the popularity of sugary-drink consumption, the province could earn as much as $158 million annually with the levy, which could be used toward health promotion from building more recreational facilities to creating better sports and recreational programs.

Our class discussion hit on the fact that taxes are likely a more ethical approach based on the criteria provided by Upshur. It also looks like the evidence for taxation and reductions in consumption of sugar sweetened beverages and Body Mass Index is pretty good.

Escobar MAC, Veerman JL, Tollman SM, Bertram MY, Hofman KJ. Evidence that a tax on sugar sweetened beverages reduces the obesity rate: a meta-analysis. BMC Public Health. 2013;13(1):1072. doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-1072.

Blakely T, Wilson N, Kaye-Blake B. Taxes on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages to Curb Future Obesity and Diabetes Epidemics. Plos Med. 2014;11(1):e1001583. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001583.

Go Alberta!!

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