To the Editor:
Re “What a Big Tax on Soft Drinks Can Do” (editorial, Oct. 19):
Discriminatory taxes on beverages do not improve public health, and they divert us from meaningful solutions to complex health challenges.
In the few places where they have been tried, excise taxes that single out beverages have been shown to have no effect on obesity. West Virginia and Arkansas have longstanding soda taxes and continue to rank in the top 10 most obese states. States with no soda tax, such as Massachusetts and Vermont, are among the least obese states. Even a report by the European Commission that looked at the effect of taxes on common grocery items found “no robust conclusions on the impact of food taxes on public health.”
Regarding a soda tax in Mexico, even the Times editorial board acknowledges there is no proof that public health improved as a result of the tax. What has happened is the closing of more than 30,000 neighborhood stores in part because of the tax, says Mexico’s National Association of Small Merchants.
If we want to get serious about obesity and other complex health issues, it starts with education and collaboration to inform people how to maintain a balanced lifestyle. Taxes will not help.
President and Chief Executive
American Beverage Association