Soft drink tax makes sense

The Glengarry News - - The Opinion Page - STEVEN WARBURTON

I like pop. When I was a kid, Dr. Pep­per was my ab­so­lute favourite. One Christ­mas Eve, my dad stacked 12 cases of Dr. Pep­per right out­side my bed­room. My love of Dr. Pep­per was so leg­endary that peo­ple didn’t even have to ask me what I wanted to drink. If there was a Dr. Pep­per nearby, that’s what I got.

In later years, I grav­i­tated away from Dr. Pep­per and to­ward gin­ger ale, that air­line and sick-witha-stom­achache favourite. They say that gin­ger ale is health­ier than other so­das be­cause it con­tains some medic­i­nal in­gre­di­ents but that’s a lit­tle like say­ing it’s health­ier to swal­low one ra­zor blade in­stead of three be­cause you won’t lose as much blood.

So yeah, I am a so­dapop junkie. I know water is bet­ter for me but – tell you what – on a su­per hot day, a nice cold Dr. Pep­per hits the spot bet­ter than a glass of icy H20. Maybe that’s just my per­sonal pref­er­ence or maybe I’m ad­dicted to caf­feine and su­gar and high glu­cose corn syrup, but the bot­tom line is that I like pop and, al­though I have cut back on it since en­ter­ing mid­dle age, I know that it’s not good for me.

Ev­ery­one has got to know that it’s not good for you. De­spite the high-pow­ered ad­ver­tis­ing cam­paigns put out by Coke and Pepsi, which want us to equate con­sum­ing their prod­uct with be­ing young and beau­ti­ful, the facts are quite ev­i­dent for any­one who cares to do a mod­icum of re­search. A 20-ounce can of Coca Cola has the equiv­a­lent of 17 tea­spoons of su­gar.

Drink­ing pop af­fects your kid­neys, leads to obe­sity and will you put you in the fast lane to Di­a­betes City. Want to feel bet­ter? Cut out the pop.

So the Lib­er­als have a pretty fan­tas­tic idea in their pro­posed soda pop tax, which is one of the things they’re con­sid­er­ing cam­paign­ing on in the up­com­ing fed­eral elec­tion.

The CBC has quoted Ajax Lib­eral MP Mark Hol­land, a for­mer se­nior ex­ec­u­tive at the Heart and Stroke Foun­da­tion, as say­ing that “we have a prob­lem with su­gar sweet­ened bev­er­ages be­ing too read­ily avail­able at too low a price and it is mas­sively con­tribut­ing to the obe­sity epi­demic.”

He fur­ther cited re­search from the Univer­sity of Wis­con­sin, which “re­veals that sug­ary drink con­sump­tion is pro­jected to re­sult in over 63,000 deaths and cost the health care sys­tem more than $50 bil­lion over the next 25 years.”

Those are Amer­i­can fig­ures, of course, but it’s not much of a stretch to real­ize that Cana­di­ans are in a sim­i­lar predica­ment. In­deed, if we can show that the con­sump­tion of pop leads to a more taxed health­care sys­tem, then it makes sense to levy a tax on pop. It makes even more sense if the gov­ern­ment could chan­nel that ex­tra tax rev­enue into the health­care sys­tem or, as the Lib­er­als are propos­ing, a na­tional nu­tri­tious school lunch pro­gram.”

We do the same thing with cig­a­rettes, don’t we? We know that smok­ing is un­healthy, so we ask smok­ers to pitch a lit­tle some­thing ex­tra into the tax pool ev­ery time they light up. Let’s do the same with pop.

And yes, this might give rise to black mar­ket soda mak­ers.

Yep, our sons and daugh­ters, whilst walk­ing to school, may pass a shady char­ac­ter in an over­coat hud­dling in the al­ley. “Hey kid, wanna buy some Fanta?”

But you know what? That’s a risk we should be will­ing to take.

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