Should the government tax soda?

Background

The science is pretty clear: soda has a lot of added sugar, and added sugar is really bad for you. So bad, in fact, that it may cause millions of chronic diseases and preventable deaths from obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

To address this public health problem, some governments have levied a tax on soda, including several major US cities such as D.C., San Francisco, and Seattle. Advocates say the taxes are effective at reducing sugary drink consumption and increasing public health. Critics worry about the possible economic impact and about government overreach.

Discussion Questions

1. To what extent does your own level of soda consumption affect your view on this topic?

2. The PRO side has a lot of evidence that added sugars, such as those found in soda, are harmful to people’s health. How credible are the sources for this data?

3. The PRO side also compares the soda tax to taxes on alcohol and cigarettes. Is this a fair comparison? Why or why not?

4. The CON side has a premise that it’s a slippery slope to start taxing soda, because it’s not clear where the limits would be on the government’s ability to intervene in our lives. (For example, could the government tax anything that might be bad for people’s health?) How convincing do you find this argument?

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