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Mexico, France and Norway have implemented soda taxes.
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The aim is to reduce obesity and diabetes.
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The key to delivering a better food future for everyone is moving beyond individual change into the public realm. We must act collectively, pressuring governments to use their regulatory and legislative powers to emphasize health, sustainability and fairness.
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The spring budget made no mention of imposing taxes on sugary beverages.
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There has been increasing interest in the use of a sugar-sweetened beverage tax to curb the burden of obesity in Canada -- call it a 'pop tax' if you like. A recent Senate report on obesity in Canada recommends assessing the possibility of a sugar-sweetened beverage tax and points to the high rates of taxation on tobacco products as a successful example worth imitating. But have taxes on tobacco products been as successful as is often claimed?
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The bipartisan legislative committee was asked by Finance Minister Michael de Jong to travel the province and make recommendations for the 2016-17 B.C. budget. Unfortunately, the committee fell into the usual trap of recommending billions in new spending requests put in by dozens of special interest groups.
Now we have two reasons to be skeptical about Mexico's soda tax effectiveness: very little incentive to substitute to other drinks and not much pass through to consumers. Based on that we can expect the Mexican tax to be a bust both on the consumer's pocketbook and health.
The biggest target of obesity in North America? Soda. Many experts now claim that soda is the new tobacco -- indeed, Google those terms and you get more than 7 million hits. For them, Coke is the new Camel. Let me take a step back and note the basic problem in fighting obesity like we fought tobacco.
Provinces that propose to tax sugary beverages may increase their general revenues; but as a strategy to reduce the severe chronic illness and huge financial costs associated with obesity, it will fail to accomplish anything -- except expanding the power of bureaucrats.
Only you can manage your own diet and your own calorie intake. No government, no restaurant, no physician can do it for you. It's this complexity that makes personal health responsibility so important in reversing the obesity epidemic.
Obesity has become a "collective" issue that presumably concerns us all. Just last week, a coalition of health and education experts repeated their call for the Quebec government to introduce a sugar tax on soft drinks and so-called "energy drinks."