The junk-food police

Sin taxes and bans

March 11, 2013

Mark Bittman, among others, has long advocated the use of sin taxes on junk food, but so far the idea hasn’t caught on Stateside.

Over in Europe, Denmark has tried and failed to make sin taxes work, while Hungary is currently struggling with implementing the concept. Some manufacturers reformulate their products to avoid the taxes, while consumers often simply buy similar foods that are cheaper (and generally made with even worse ingredients).

On this side of the pond, outright bans on such items as soda pop have been more popular. But it’s not clear if the bans, like the taxes, actually improve health — and now New York City’s soda ban has been repealed, one day before it was due to go into effect.

Marion Nestle, though, thinks the soda ban is a great idea:

So-called “nanny-state” measures — like bans on driving while drunk, smoking in public places and, now, selling absurdly large sugary drinks — help to level the playing field. Such measures are about giving everyone an equal opportunity to live a safer and healthier life.
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