From my Inbox: The San Fran Soda Tax

I’ve let some news stories pile up over the holiday break, so I’m trying to clean up my Inbox and Saved Articles folders as much as possible over the next week or so.

The first story that caught my attention was San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom’s idea of floating around a soda tax.

After banning plastic bags from chain grocery stores and bottled water from City Hall, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom has set his sights on soda – working up a plan to charge a new city fee to big retailers of sugar drinks.

“The bottom line is that there is a direct nexus between high-fructose corn syrup drinks like colas and Big Gulps and obesity among schoolkids,” Newsom said Friday.

The idea of taxing soda to combat obesity – which is being touted as the first in the nation – has been roiling around in health circles for some time, including backing from the American Medical Association.

First thing – Even though Newsom’s calling this a “fee” and not a tax, it is, for all intents and purposes a tax. Newsom isn’t kidding anyone.

Second – While the idea seems to have merit on the surface, the problem here is always in the application. In other words – How do you define what is a soda? My first attempt – “A carbonated drink with a sugar content of over x%” led me to some further interesting questions – Would Red Bull, Monster and Rock Star fall under this definition? They sure as heck have been marketing themselves as Not Soft Drinks, even though from my perspective they clearly are. Additionally, would this exclude diet soft drinks?

All that is known for certain is that we are getting fatter (myself included), and that this does lead to increased health problems. And someone will have to pay for these health problems in some form or another.