Monday, April 13, 2009

A tax so sweet

Sugar, rum, and tobacco are commodities which are nowhere necessaries of life, which are become objects of almost universal consumption, and which are therefore extremely proper subjects of taxation.
— Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, 1776

Kelly D. Brownell, Ph.D., writing in the New England Journal of Medicine last week, is proposing we tax soft drinks and snacks containing sugar and high fructose corn syrup to lower obesity and raise revenue. Why we are loathe to take that step when we have controlled alcohol and tobacco consumption in that way for years doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

My Mini-Med School class last week was full of information on the role of glucose in the body and how dangerous it can be when it spins out of control. If we have an epidemic, and many health professionals point out that obesity and diabetes have gotten to that point in the United States, we need to something about it. Taxing sugar more may be a first step.

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