Think a Soda Tax Is Regressive? Try Diabetes

October 17, 2014 3:38 PM

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The beverage industry has a variety of go-to defense arguments when faced with the threat of a soda tax like San Francisco's Proposition E. "Freedom of choice" is popular, and a deliberate misrepresentation of the issue, since soda taxes are not bans. Then there is the familiar insistence that education, not policy, is the answer, but where would we be if we rejected policies on wearing seat belts, smoking indoors, or using asbestos, and instead relied solely on education to bring change? Another talking point that Big Soda has been harping upon in San Francisco is one that envelopes them in a warm, empathetic light: that soda taxes are regressive (equally applicable to everyone, regardless of income) and therefore "hurt the poor."

This is a carefully calculated strategy, as any talk of price increases tends to raise the public's antennae, especially in progressive areas like San Francisco. Who would want to support a policy that could potentially add to the economic burden millions of Americans already endure?

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