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Lawmakers sweet on soda taxes

Canned sodas_iStock_000017276846SmallCongress talked about it as a way to pay for national health care reform, but the legislative fizz quickly went out of taxing soft drinks and other sugary beverages.

Such proposed levies, however, are freely flowing from state and local taxing offices.

Colorado's beverage (and candy) tax became law last month.

Lawmakers in New York state, California and Philadelphia are trying to enact similar measures in those jurisdictions.

New York's effort apparently is falling flat and the expected resistance is bubbling up in the other localities, but that's not stopping cash-strapped legislatures across the rest of the country.

Now Kansas has put on the legislative table its own literal spoonful of sugar tax. The Sunflower State would impose a penny tax for every teaspoon of sugar in a beverage.

Lawmakers like to pretend that they want the taxes to protect us from our collective national sweet tooth. America is an increasingly (no pun intended) overweight country, and the extra pounds also carry many medical problems and associated costs.

These so-called Pigovian taxes, charges on activities or products that are generally viewed as deleterious to the overall social good, have been around for ages. The thinking is if, for example, in this latest round of soda taxes, we can't give up the sugary carbonated drinks and other goodies on our own, then maybe we'll do so when added taxes make them just too costly for our personal budgets. Taxing us into health, so to speak.

And an article in today's New York Times is just what supporters of such taxes like to see.

New research indicates that proposed taxes on soft drinks may make young people healthier, writes Roni Caryn Rabin in Nutrition: Rise in Soda Price Linked to Better Health.

That might well be so, but the truth of the soda tax is that cash-strapped states are looking at any and everything to raise revenue.

Until we cycle through this recession and get on better financial footing, individually and at our legislative levels, be prepared to see such taxes show up and occasionally become law.

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So they are doing it just like taxing on cigarettes, which are dangerous to our health. But it will really cut-off the sugar intake of the people? Why don't just they lower taxes on healthy foods?

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