Reuters reports New York governor David Paterson wants to introduce a state-wide “soda tax” on sugary soft drinks. He believes the tax would help the state curb the obesity epidemic and recoup billions of dollars worth of public funds spent on treating weight-related ailments, such as Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and coronary height disease. “Someone has got to contribute to the $7.6 billion the state spends every year to treat diseases from obesity,” he said.
But the proposal has met fierce opposition from New York bottlers and vendors. “New Yorkers know that taxes don’t make people healthy, they cost jobs and hurt working families. This is a job-killing tax that will devastate grocers and other retailers,” insists Nelson Eusebio, the chairman of New Yorkers Against Unfair Taxes.
Paterson’s proposal has, however, gained the support of New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg. On Sunday, Mr. Bloomberg urged state legislators to levy a 1% tax on sugary soft drinks sold in the state. “An extra 12 cents on a can of soda would raise nearly $1 billion, allowing us to keep community health services open and teachers in the classroom. And, at the same time, it would help us fight a major problem plaguing our children: obesity,” he said.
Bloomberg has a history of successful campaigning on public health issues. In 2003, he faced down fierce opposition to introduce a smoking ban in New York City’s bars and restaurants. The ban proved a roaring success and was cited by many anti-smoking advocates in England before it adopted its own smoking ban in 2007.
So is a UK tax on soft drinks likely? Watch this space…
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