Letter: More taxes can be a salve for the public’s health
To the Editor:
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s decision to ban supersized sugary sodas has resurrected the age-old debate over the role of the state in protecting public health. In recent years, this debate involved bicycle helmets, car-seat belts, tobacco, trans fats, saturated fats in meat and dairy products and sugar (or more aptly, high fructose corn syrup). Public subsidies for tobacco, meat, dairy and corn production added fuel to the debate.
I would argue that society has a right to regulate activities that impose a heavy burden on the public treasury. National medical costs of dealing with our obesity epidemic – associated with consumption of meat, dairy and sugars – are estimated at $190 billion. Eliminating subsidies
for these products, as well as judicious taxation to reduce their use and recoup public costs, should be supported by health advocates and fiscal conservatives alike.
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