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Should junk food be taxed?

September 2, 2009

Increasingly vocal calls for taxes on sugary drinks and junk food are fueling a behind- the-scenes battle that public health officials say is reminiscent of America’s war on cigarettes.

Fueling the debate are revenue-hungry federal, state and local governments officials who are eying a potential $50 billion windfall from taxes on over 10 years.

Take a look at the New York City Department of Health’s ad discouraging people from drinking sugary sodas, and let us know whether you think a junk food tax would be good public policy, or an intrusive step too far by the nanny state.


If they don’t have the gumption to stand up to manufacturers of partially hyrogenated oil, what are the odds that this is going to pass?Tax partially hyrogenated oil, if big business won’t let you ban it.On label: “No trans fat”In ingredients: “partially hydrogenated ________ oil”Only in America.

Posted by Bob | Report as abusive

If the goverment needs money I have a solution stop spending what you do not have.

Posted by wolf on a roadking | Report as abusive

Reminder: Cigerettes don’t just harm the smoker they also harm people around the smoker. So, the tax on them isn’t just for those who smoke, but the people who get sick from the second hand smoke, which can be just as deadly if not worse according to doctors. So, before you relate them to this junk food tax scenario please remember this.I think I agree with the person previously here that said, ” Tax just enough so people still buy it and pay the tax, but not enough to actually stop drinking it [or eating it]. (just like cigarettes [where they tax enough that people still buy them rather than quit buying them, however cigerettes also have an adictive additive that helps that affect and to assure their consumption.])” My addtions to the quote is in [] brakets.

Posted by Cynthia | Report as abusive

This is the country you asked for America….enjoy.keep on taxing baby…


As an adult, I am responsible for my own health (or lack thereof). As long as my bad habits do not harm others, I should be allowed to indulge in these bad habits.On a personal note, I work out hard and often. As a result, if I want a bag of chips, or if I want to supersize my meal, I should not be banned from or inconvenienced in doing so. It is unfair to punish me because others choose an unhealthy lifestyle.If citizens give the government the free rein to treat them like children, those citizens need not complain when the government takes that recommendation, and that will inevitably lead to a level beyond fast food. Grow up, and take responsibility for your own actions! Are you trying to reinstate communist Russia?

Posted by alf | Report as abusive

I have never seen so many supporters of a regressive tax proposal in one place (unless, maybe, at a DNC). Punitive end use taxes serve to do a number of things: promise high-minded use of the revenue (which, by the way, is estimated based on the number of users remaining constant), fail to deliver on the promise (in large part, due to unrealized revenue), cause some level of US unemployment (a result of decreased demand), and cause those who continue to use the products to be resolute in their usage. How about, instead, we tax Congress based on the weight of the bill they propose, when it’s printed?

Posted by Wildbiker | Report as abusive

Yes, it should be taxed. I believe we are smart enough to know what takes us down, and gambling, alcohol, cigarettes and junk, unhealthy food does nothing positive for us, and this is a proven fact. These should be items that if consumed, or engaged in, be subject to tax. Healthy living should be rewarded. Taxes of this nature should be levied on those who choose unhealthy lifestyles.

Posted by Ricquito | Report as abusive

I think variable combine (local, state, and Federal) sale tax should be put on everything and drop all income tax. At the present the government only collect taxes on proven income. Combine Sale taxes will get money from all the illegal activity money making that go on in this country. If a man can afford to buy a million dollar house with cash then he can afford to pay hundred thousand dollar combine sale tax. And no combine sale tax on basic food, medication, and cleaning needs, but bottle water is not a basic food nor is pop, chips, candy bars, cake, cake mixes, and deli items.

Posted by morris | Report as abusive

The Government is OUT-OF-CONTROL!

Posted by Seeekerman | Report as abusive

Absolutely not!!! You can not legislate responsibility! You also can not discriminate! If I am already skinny with no health problems, you are telling me that I can not run my life and I need the “guv’ments help”. I am sorry, but with this administration, I have had enough “help” to last a lifetime. Get out of my life! I do not need any help from someone who can not tie their own shoes!Get out of my life!This burns my but like flames over my head!!!!

Posted by Rancho Azul | Report as abusive

what ever happened to personal responsibility? you can’t blame a soda or candy maker if your kid is fat….it is your own fault!


Oh boy, another tax made by bullies who dictate how others should live their life. What’s the alternative to junk food and soda? $2.00 bottles of tap water? Overpriced organic foods? Salads that are priced way more than their content is worth?The government needs to butt out of people’s personal life choices. If you start getting chunky, hop on a treadmill and start running. There’s no need for some political thug to tell you what you should and should not eat.

Posted by Erik J. Mawst | Report as abusive

Instead of a tax that has to be tracked and audited and is not only regressive but theoretically decreasing tax, why not just get rid of the farm bill. Given that a majority of these fattening products come from over produced and cheap sugar substitutes like high fructose corn syrup, removing the subsidies to the producers would be the best bet.Not only does it serve the purpose of removing corporate welfare but puts sugar (which metabolizes differently then corn syrup) on an equal footing with the corn producers of the world.


Just another tax camel with his nose under the tent! Just wait and see how long before the whole beast in! Parents today expect the government to be the nanny, wake up people!They are only talking about obesity and diabetes, how about the acids and sugars that eat away a drinkers teeth. All these taxes are starting to turn the USA into another Europe. Although they say, “Europe starts at the Appalachian mountains.”The Wisconsin Governor sold the tobacco funds for a dime on the dollar to help pay for his inflated budget, so what good is that?Trust a politician to grab your wallet and not his own.

Posted by P Offed! | Report as abusive

I’m for a tax only if 100% of the revenue is used to lower the cost of healthy alternatives. Tax that box of cookies and use the money to make vegetables more affordable. Tell the gov’t to keep their hands off!

Posted by Bill | Report as abusive

Yes, the taxes on junk foods will permit that people think before paying much for a thing that is not good for the health. That’s I believe so.

Posted by Leila Santos | Report as abusive

Conservative logic has become painfully ignorant. “Self responsibility”? If someone wants to indulge in junk food their whole life, WHO PAYS FOR THEIR HEALTH CARE BILLS? WE DO!!! I’m sick of paying higher premiums because of fat, unhealthy people. And as far as paying too much in taxes, how much do you guys think we spend on health care every year on problems caused by “irresponsible” diets? Enough already! Make the people who are too stupid to eat right pay for their own health problems.

Posted by Bill | Report as abusive

In addition to getting rid of the farm subsidy on corn, the tax on junk foods with useless calories, excessive fat, etc is warranted. I would even prefer to see 25% tax. For those who think that the government is intruding on their choice of food, their medical insurance bills should be doubled to indicate their risk factor. If they don’t medical insurance, should they be denied emergency treatment due to implications of such lousy food & drinks. restaurants should be required to server half or quarter portions. All you can eat buffets should be scrutinized. We are so excessive in our foods that it is difficult to fathom that in the US, we have homeless and hungry people with all these excesses.

Posted by John Obu | Report as abusive

Taxing everything we have has become the status quo for this country. While we are at it we should tax people for breathing. I am a smoker and I think taxing cigarettes was the worst thing that they could think of. If people don’t like to smoke then don’t smoke. No one put a gun to my head and told me to smoke. No one pt a gun to my head and told me to eat junk food. It is all a preference and there should not be a government official to tell me what I can and can not do to my body. The government was set up to represent us not rule us. Stay out of my life!!!!

Posted by Bill D | Report as abusive

PLEASE TAX IT BIG!!! The higher the better. Obese people are costing our system billions!!! Being obese makes you sick, and the rest of us have to pay for it. Why? Because all our insurance premiums go up when you have to see doctors for diabetes and heart disease that you could have prevented. Because the emergency room has to treat you when your weight gives you a heart attack or otherwise compromises your health. Because you can’t do your job to the highest standards when you are obese, which means the rest of us have to work harder, or worse, pay for your welfare when you go on “disability” for that heart condition, which you have because you’re obese.

Posted by Tess | Report as abusive

No more taxes on anything!

Posted by Richard | Report as abusive

Although the thought of taxing junk food and sugary drink seems like a very good reason to increase the income of the goverment. I read these comments and people say “They should be taxed because of the people that are fat and unhealthly” There are other reasons for a person to be fat and unhealthly, some reasons likes myself have a thyroid problem that prevents my body from properly converting the food into the energy my body needs so it backs up the extra food it cannot convert into fat. Not all “fat” people are fat because of junk food. Also having to pay for their medical bills. That’s a shame that you aren’t willing to help someone else that is in need of your help, even if it is because of them eating, they are still human and deserve to be treated as such.

Posted by Joerie L | Report as abusive

YES, but the revenues should only be used for healthcare, including preventative measures such as personal health education. I don’t think that enough people understand their own metabolism enough to understand the dangers of ingesting everything the food industry tries to sell.People that think the govt. is trying to take away their freedom, are trying to obfuscate the matter at hand. Freedom is having a choice. This solution does not take away anyone’s right to choose, it just adds an economic consequence to your choice – much like the economic consequence that the healthcare system faces when people choose to lead unhealthy lifestyles.If you don’t realize that every choice has a consequence, you’re not Free – You will always be a slave to the short-sightedness of your previous decisions.

Posted by Michael | Report as abusive

As someone with a background in public health, I understand the need to educate people about healthy lifestyles. However, as a citizen of the U.S. and taxpayer, I can’t help but wonder if perhaps we shouldn’t be working towards more legitimate sources of government revenue other than luxury taxes. In Zimbabwe with unemployment over 90% it has been reported that the vast majority of government revenue comes from alcohol and tobacco taxes. I find the paralels to what is happening here to be very sad. Will soda pay for Afghanistan?


Been waiting for this for years and I support it out of sheer spite. Everyone who kept voting and agreeing on cigarette tax increases are now on the recieving end with something they like. A plan to make money while protecting us from ourselves. I wonder how many years it will take for us to become britain.

Posted by John | Report as abusive

The Coca Cola Company, Nestle Company and any other people that take the water across the planet for free and produce plastic bottles to contaminate the earth should be fined.The production of all these products, pop, junk food should be eliminated.We are going to be running short of water and those big companies are still extracting water.Taxing the products is not going to help. Its the companies that you have to go after, not the populace.


Is taxing the answer? Or is stopping Corn crop subsidy in the USA the answer?Learn while being entertained, watch King Corn.More info at film)

Posted by kdl | Report as abusive

As long as Government Officials, Bikes, Automobiles, Vegetables, Movies, Email, Bikes, Skateboards, etc. etc. are taxs equally as a percentage Sodas because in many ways they are just as dangerous.

Posted by Rich | Report as abusive

I can understand taxing things that are not good for us. But the reality is the taxes are being added because our government officials are incapable of running the government in a financially responsible manner. Doing what’s best for us is not their reason.

Posted by Mark | Report as abusive

More and more it is becoming evident that the Freedom of Choice we have now has a price beyond the one paid by the blood of our forefathers. It must be paid in taxes to the state. Truly a shame.

Posted by Dan | Report as abusive

I absolutely do not want to be taxed on junk food or drinks. We are taxed enough. I think people should be able to make their own free choices on what they think, eat or do. Stop trying to control everything the public does. It’s still a free country, isn’t it?????

Posted by Dot Carone | Report as abusive

What government agency labels my choice of food “junk”? “Junk” to the government may be “healthy” to me.

Posted by e eaton | Report as abusive

I completely disagree with this tax, I mean seriously where does it stop? I am in great shape and enjoy a regular soda and a bag a chips almost every day. The difference I work out. I think that we should start charging everyone a tax that doesn’t and that will pay for my gym and there increased health costs.

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

If we TAX them they must OBEYPeople are so simple minded. They dont see that we are in the mist of constructing the “perfect” world.We that are superior are obligated to protect these simple people from themselves. This is just the begining, just wait until they see Obamacare.Far to much freedom is given to the common simple people. They are not responsible enough to handle such freedoms and we as a result are forced to regulate.If you listen to them wine as we take away thier freedoms you’ll hear them wimper that they have the same right to live and choose as the rest of us.These are the same agrivated people that traffic jamb behind us as we keep them safe by controling thier speed on the road.


See World News Daily and its report on the states (esp. MA) considering swine flu legislation like warrantless entries into homes to see that everyone is vaccinated, $1000 fines for noncompliance, physical removal of those infected to quarantine stations–HIV/AIDS kills 50-60,000 a year and no one can know anyone’s name, whether they’ve had treatment, and if they are infecting others, but in the name of a flu, the gov’t's of the US want to control the breath you breathe.All in the name of health. It’s a scam to control your freedom.Bork’em. Call Congress daily 202-224/225-3121. Do not give up. Do not surrender.

Posted by Renny | Report as abusive

If the soda or candy company increased the price of your little treat 5c you wouldn’t bat an eye, as soon as you find out it’s a government tax you freak out, government so so ignorant it’s laughable. No one is saying you can’t or not to, they’re saying if You Choose to indulge in these items you’re going to pay a few cents more. You ever hear of ‘sin tax’…you probably thought the newscaster was saying syntax…hmmm…you pay more for un-healthy choices because those choices are going to cost the government and society more money in Medicare over the coarse of your life. Your a drain, with your rotten, yellow teeth and emphysema from your ‘Cokes n Smokes’, livin off Reds, vitamin C and cocaine, all a man can say it ain’t it a shame…pay your taxes or drink a glass of water instead.

Posted by AustinHipster | Report as abusive

Um…. NO!


Anything sold in a bottle manufactured out of PET should be taxed, not just softdrinks.

Posted by Scott | Report as abusive

Nanny May I?NOC’mon People Think




Another tax is just what we need..We do not need extra tax on any food or drink of any kind. Adding a tax on food would just be another way to take away from the people who can’t afford it and there should not be a government official to tell me what I can and can not eat or drink. The government needs to just stay out of my our lives and stop trying to take away everything that we enjoy

Posted by Ray | Report as abusive

When will it stop? I don’t know about you, but I am tired of the food police, the medicine police, the exercise police, etc. I thought this was a free county. Freedom to make stupid choices and be obese. I know. Why don’t we require all obese people to pay a FAT tax. The fatter you are, the momre you pay. I’m 58, trim, and sometimes I like a junior whopper, candy, or a little ice cream, but I don’t live on junk food. The state and federal government stay up late at night figuring out what to tax next. The answer is to quit spending so much.


Absolutely junk food and colas should be taxed.Suppose we were to tax $.50 per daily limit of added sugar, as suggested by the American Heart Association (which argues for less than 25g of added sugars per day – .sugar.added/index.html). That would be about one cent per added sugar calorie. A 2L of Coke would have an extra tax of $4.10. If you have a healthy diet, these taxes should amount to less than $182/yr. But the average American consumes 355 calories of added sugar per day – and thus would be taxed $648 per year if they didn’t change their behaviors.In contrast, diabetes alone costs $713/person in the US from direct medical costs alone. ( ease/idUS132744+01-Sep-2009+PRN20090901) Obesity treatments (including weight loss pills and diets) and diseases add much more costs. In short, this tax would dramatically under count the amount of damage one does to one’s health by consuming these foods. There’s no reason for Americans to consume these poisons without paying for their costs up front.

Posted by Chuck | Report as abusive

Why not? they tax cigarettes, beer, wine, whiskery, bottles, cans. Where were you bed wetters when they were taxing those products. What made you think they would stop there? Come on Fatso pay up. I say put a scale and height contraption in every junk food establishment and make them pay $1.00 a pound they are over government recommended limits. Come on Fatso pay up, your using up valuable resources.


Hey ‘Bill’ — If you think you’re paying higher premiums because of fat, unhealthy people, you haven’t been paying attention. You’re paying higher premiums because the health insurance industry exists to make a buck (NOT to keep you and yours healthy), and the only people with enough clout to ‘negotiate’ a rate lower than the outright highway robbery that they enforce on individuals, are other corporations. Higher premiums come from a sense of ‘guaranteed money’ and a stupid medical bureaucracy that charges twice (at least) what everything’s worth because “health insurance” pays for most of it. Let doctors interact directly with patients, and costs to the individual go way, way down. ‘Fat people’ are a drop in the bucket compared to bloated bureaucracy and runaway ‘free market’ capitalism. Go do some reading, and then come back when you have a clue.

Posted by sls | Report as abusive

Yes! Yes! YES!!!

Posted by HL | Report as abusive

why not just put a tax on existence itself and kill everyone who is late in paying it? put a tax on thought, a penny for your thoughts and then put up billboards and TV ads and even ads on google trying to convince people not to think as much, after all thinking is bad for you because it makes you smart and when you get too smart you can’t relate to idiots anymore, and you also become antagonistic to the government, because it is composed of pure idiots.

Posted by rey | Report as abusive

I think it is a great idea, but lets not stop there. There should also be a $5.00 tax on those water bottles that people buy and the landfills can not handle. Bread those nasty old carbs should be taxed, along with any imported food. Importing food hurts the environment. It all has to be shipped here when actually there is no need, as the country can supply all the necessary food crops for a proper diet. Bananas etc are not needed for proper nutrition. Last but not least we should also raise the tax on alcohol products. You know that other addictive substance that kills more people per year than cigarettes.

Posted by Galium | Report as abusive

You idiots. You already pay a tax on soda and junk food, it’s called out-of-control health care premiums we all pay for the morbidly obese and unhealthy populous. The purpose of the tax is two-fold; more govt’revenue(of course) and discourage consumption of unhealthy foods, thereby encouraging a healthier citizenry. Would it work to achieve goal number two? Possibly. If sugar and fat taxes killed the bottom line on junk food for corporations, they might just find a way to make healthier foods that you might just enjoy. Is it wise or a government intrusion into our god-given right to eat your way into a double-wide hospital bed?Hmmmmm….

Posted by Alex | Report as abusive

STOP THIS INSANITY. Government wants more money and I say they are nothing more than “DOLLAR JUNKIES”. It’s none of their business what my family and I eat, drink or choose to smoke. Get out of our lives.John

Posted by John | Report as abusive

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