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Will A Tax On Junk Food Curb Obesity?
Will A Tax On Junk Food Curb Obesity?

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AIR DATE: July 20, 2012

With city and state coffers running out of money and with a national obesity rate at around 33 percent, a tax on junk food may seem like a win-win – a way to both generate revenue and promote health.

Nevada Assemblyman Harvey Munford has proposed a bill that he believes would accomplish both of those objectives. He says that by adding a five cent tax to junk food purchases, the government will play a role in protecting people’s health.

“The government tells people what they think is best for them,” says Munford. “Seat belts, texting while driving, you’ve got to have car insurance. There’s all kind of laws in place to dictate human behavior.”

Justin Wilson Senior Research Analyst at the Center for Consumer Freedom says that the government can play a role in educating consumers, without resorting to legislating behavior.

“There is a mile of difference between reminding people to eat healthy and forcing them with the power of the government to do so,” says Wilson. “The government does do things like require people to wear seatbelts. There is no one who says wearing a seat belt is costing them money. In this case, we’re costing families lots of money.”

Munford hasn’t presented his bill to the legislature yet and says he’s receptive to changes to the bill.

“We do not go into session until February. This is an early proposal,” says Munford.  “I’m still going to present it but I’m open for input. The power rests with the people.”

What do you think should be included in the assemblyman’s bill? Leave your comments below.

 

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    COMMENTS:
    Did additional taxes on cigarettes reduce smoking? Nope. Using the 'better health' of the public as an excuse to add taxes to any product is just plain greed unles 100% of those taxes go to community health centers for fitness and exercise (we all know how likely THAT is). Taxes do not change habits, never will.
    Eve SereneJul 20, 2012 16:41:56 PM
    The economy is ice-cold and you want to add a tax on those who can only afford junk food because they are living in the backs of their cars at the Walmart parking lot or behind churches? Shame on you. Get the fast food companies to replace sugar with stevia, or better yet, offer sugar (and corn syrup)-free drinks. (I hate sugar in my drinks, but I can't buy them.) Work on the fast food companies to help change the taste buds. You're not dealing with the source. You're like a nanny who keeps slapping the hand of a kid reaching for a cookie. Take the cookies away.
    JanieJul 19, 2012 21:15:35 PM
    These are all legal products, and America is nominally a free country. Who's to say that "junk food" is "bad" and should be taxed, and by how much? Big picture, this sort of government-sponsored social engineering is equivalent to, say, having an arbitrary tax on being Muslim, but not on being Christian. A tyrannical nanny-state stealing our liberty by micromanaging our lives and choices, and taxing us to death is exactly what our Founders fought against some 200 years ago.
    Tom HurstJul 19, 2012 12:52:22 PM
    In school we were more than sufficiently educated on how to eat and live healthy. Those who live unealthy to a point of poorly affecting their lives is their choice. I stay physically active enough I can eat and drink whatever I choose. I refuse to be punished for others lack of willpower. Healthy food is expensive junk food Is cheap, jobs are less physically strenuous, people have less time to be active because they need to work 100 hours a week at 2 or 3 jobs. Tax the people, make them poor; tax the manufacturers, make our nation poor. If taxed, the makers will tack the extra cost and then some on to the price of the consumers. Look at the big picture folks. This is the freedom our Servicemen and women are fighting for?!
    Erick A MoggJul 19, 2012 10:12:05 AM
    Go ahead and tax the junk, but don't expect it to have any effect on the consumption of these things. It will do nothing because it doesn't change the addictions to them. You'll find that the producers of junk will simply put them on sale more often so people will keep up their consumption and their shareholders get their expected returns. Until people decide they understand how much better they will feel when they stop shopping the middle aisles of supermarkets, a tax won't have the desired effect.
    CatherineJul 19, 2012 09:56:05 AM
    Michael, can you please be more specific about DOD and Evangelicals? I want to know what you are talking about.
    Ligeia WillJul 18, 2012 12:08:00 PM
    I am against all fast food, better yet I am against all massive food productions. I do not ever feed it to my child. It is not right for me to say everyone should do it my way, you cannot take people's choices away from them. In a heartbeat I would say tax the fast food, also make the company pay extra tax etc... treat them like the cigarette companies. At the same time though I am looking carefully at every ingredient in our foods and if you think fast food is the problem think again. There is chemical processing in almost everything we eat. Even the foods you think are healthy aren't. There is psychological warfare that is happening in the food and advertising industries and if people don't EMPOWER themselves we are just chasing our tails around in circles. For all the advancements society has made, food is not one one them. Nothing will ever be better than cooking something from scratch that has never been altered or bleached or shot with hormones etc.. We actually need to go backwards in time with food. So you can tax all you want but it is not even a drop in the bucket to the real problems. Empowering people back into the kitchen is key.
    Ligeia WillJul 18, 2012 12:05:24 PM
    Hilary Clinton said "It Takes A Village". George W. Bush said "No Child Left Behind". The DOD spends millions promoting Evangelical Christianity. The military spends $20 million a year sponsoring NASCAR. If our government behaves in a christian way it is called socialism. We should either do the right thing by our children or get the Christian Cult our of our government.
    MichaelJul 18, 2012 09:33:40 AM
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