A Reasoned Argument for a Sugary-Drink Tax

This legislative session, one bill that MHA and the hospital community is solidly behind would raise the tax on sugary drinks. Specifically, H2529/S1709, An Act to Promote Healthy Alternatives to Sugary Drinks, sponsored by Rep. Kay Khan (D-Newton) and Sen. Jason Lewis (D-Winchester), would implement a tiered-tax on non-alcoholic, sugar-sweetened beverages based upon the drink’s sugar content. Proceeds from the tax would help fund a variety of community health initiatives. The healthcare community, alarmed by the rapidly increasing rates of childhood diabetes and obesity, and armed with numerous studies proving the link between those health problems and sugary drinks, feels support of the legislation is a “no-brainer.”
Now, others are joining the fight. Last week, The Berkshire Eagle editorial board weighed in, saying, “The scientific and medical evidence is in, and excess sugar in the American diet has been shown to be a cause of heart disease, diabetes and obesity in an ever-younger cohort of the populace.”
The editors added, “Those who insist that a sugary drink tax hurts those who can least afford it may wish to consider the state cigarette tax, which arguably does the same. Moreover, like cigarettes, sugary drinks are not a life necessity … A tax on harmful consumables, rather than a ban, still allows individuals to make their own choices while making strides toward achieving a collective beneficial effect.”