This week the New Zealand Taxpayer’s Union released a report that sets the record straight about the lack of effectiveness of sugar taxes in curbing obesity.
The report’s author, Joshua Riddiford, finds that proposed taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages are more about politicians passing their own personal judgments onto the general public instead of helping combat public health issues.
The data speaks for itself: “Only 1.6 percent of New Zealanders' total energy intake comes from the added sugar content of sugar sweetened non-alcoholic beverages … New Zealanders are still getting fatter despite consuming less calories, suggesting that we’re not burning as many calories.”
This directly refutes the notion (and it is just a notion, since pro-soda tax activists have no proof of their claims) that we can tax our way to health. Riddiford says that the data shows that, “Sugar taxes hurt the poor and do not result in the decreased consumption tax-supporters claim.”
Exactly. Taxes just raise prices on common grocery items and do nothing to address serious health challenges that are best solved by providing people the information and advice they need to maintain balance in their lives.
Christopher Snowdon of Britain’s Institute of Economic Affairs agreed in a foreword to the report that politicians are playing a bait-and-switch game on taxpayers and the public, using health as the excuse to grab money for government spending of all kinds.
“A sugar tax is attractive to politicians because it allows them to engage in mass pick-pocketing with a sense of moral superiority … A policy that is known to incur significant costs without reaping any measurable rewards is a policy that should be rejected,” he wrote.