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The New York Times: The Case for the Health Taxes

The politics of soda has changed pretty radically. Just a decade ago, virtually no countries or cities had a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.

Then Mexico enacted a substantial tax in 2014, and it started a trend. Soda taxes now exist in India, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. A tax will go into effect this year or next year in South Africa, Britain and Ireland. In the United States, Philadelphia, Oakland, San Francisco and Seattle are among the cities that have such a tax.

The argument for these taxes is compelling. Sweetened beverages are the single largest contributor to the obesity epidemic, scientists say, and that epidemic exacts a big toll, in both health problems and medical costs.

Soda taxes are modeled on tobacco taxes, which have been hugely successful in reducing smoking and improving public health. But even tobacco taxes are still not high enough, as the economist Robert H. Frank explained recently. And taxes on soda could do far more good if they were higher and more widespread.

Today, Mike Bloomberg, the former New York mayor, and Larry Summers, the former Treasury secretary, are announcing a new global group to advocate for these kinds of taxes. I think of them as “health taxes,” and they can also cover alcohol and forms of sugar beyond soda. The group includes the president of Uruguay and the former prime minister of New Zealand, as well as leaders from Britain, China and Nigeria.

Continue reading the full opinion piece on The New York Times

Read the press release here

Learn more about the Task Force here

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