Santa Fe Sells Sugar Tax
Santa Fe, NM will send its citizens to the polls today for a special election. The sole question on the ballot: Should the city impose a 2 cent/ounce tax on all sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB)? The pocket picker, Santa Fe City Council, will then redistribute the purported $7 million/year coup to early childhood education. A worthy recipient, but can a tax radically reduce the obesity rate or is it more likely to add an unsustainable government program to a deficit-riddled economy?
The proposed ordinance makes no attempt to obscure the ethnicity of impoverished families the council intends to target for financial assistance.
“An estimated nine hundred and sixty-six (966) three (3) and four (4) year olds living within the geographic boundaries of the Santa Fe public schools district have unmet need for high-quality pre-kindergarten; seventy-two percent (72%) of these children are Hispanic and over fifty-five percent (55%) live in households with income below two-hundred percent (200%) of the federal poverty level.”
The Sanctuary City’s controversial and outspoken Mayor, Javier Gonzales, and other proponents of the unpopular sugar ban excuse the imposition by gesticulating at Mexico and other foreign countries’ successful bullying campaign. New York City’s erstwhile Mayor Michael Bloomberg sent millions of his US dollars to Mexico to promote the obesity annulling initiative he failed to mandate in his home city.
The efforts by Mexican activists drew support from leading forces on the soda issue, including Bloomberg Philanthropies, which gave $16 million towards a campaign, and the American food science researcher Barry Popkin. They found a surprisingly willing ally in the Mexican government, which was concerned about the burden of obesity on struggling medical services.
Here The Guardian’s Health Editor introduced Mexico’s 10% tax in 2014.
A groundbreaking tax on sugar-sweetened beverages recently passed in Mexico could provide the evidence needed to justify similar laws across low- and middle-income counties and cities in the US, experts believe.
Bear in mind, the Editor’s research was current as of January 2014, but her verdict is definite.
So far, there is not conclusive evidence from any country in the world that raising the price of sugar-sweetened drinks will affect obesity levels, but the Mexico experiment is on an unprecedented scale.
My pursuit of an objective, formal study to support the claim that an excise tax will reduce obesity can be summarized by an NIH (National Institute of Health) September 2016 review of nine studies from six countries – Mexico included.
Additional research using better survey data and stronger study designs is needed to ascertain the long-term effectiveness of an SSB tax on obesity prevalence in MICs (Middle-Income Countries).
“But that’s not the United States,” you might say. “Surely we can manage our own sugar intake.” California, ever on the front-line of a socialist cause, again attaches its bandwagon to erroneous and incomplete conclusions. In 2015, Berkely, California became the first US city to apply a 1 cent tariff to sugar-based drinks. A joint state year-long study published April 18th, 2017 strayed little from the previously quoted multi-national review.
Evaluation of taxation in jurisdictions with more typical SSB consumption, with controls, is needed to assess broader dietary and potential health impacts.
Suffice it to say, “there is not conclusive evidence from any country in the world that raising the price of sugar-sweetened drinks will affect obesity levels.”
The country’s oldest state capital has a mind-boggling poor track-record for budget planning and in my opinion, borders on negligent practices. Among a plethora of other worthy examples, while the city’s water rate ranks as one of the highest in the country, Mayor Gonzales proposed the Verde Fund to prioritize climate change over infrastructure maintenance and sufficient access to clean water. His city is running a $15m deficit and, the $7m revenue assumption for the city’s sugar freeze is widely refuted.
The fact is obesity is a major cause of concern and advocacy in the US. Plus, there is little doubt a soda tax can increase revenue for a debt-laden city and reduce consumption of sugary beverages. There is, however, absolutely no evidence that taxing our soft drinks will prompt an unhealthy lifestyle into good health.
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