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Letter: Tax on sugary drinks a public health solution

Published: Friday, March 7, 2014 11:55 p.m. CDT

To the Editor: 

As a long-time resident of Shabbona, it disappoints me to see such disrespect for the importance of health in my community. I strongly disagree with many opinions expressed in your article on the proposed sugar-sweetened beverage tax in Illinois.

Sugar-sweetened beverages now account for 10 percent of total calories consumed in the average American diet, which equates to about 46 gallons of sugary drinks per year per person (Archives of Pediatric Adolescent Medicine). As such, reducing sugar-sweetened beverages through a tax is a clear target for achieving better health.

Rep. Gabel is right – this sugary beverage tax bill (not a soda tax) will help reduce diseases like heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, and will also save us billions of dollars in our health care system that we all have to pay for.

Just as Sen. Dave Syverson states, people have the right to purchase “junk food” or in this case “junk beverages.” The choice is not being taking away from anyone. The change in price is being proposed to deter people from the unhealthy choice and making the healthier beverage choice more desirable.

It is unfortunate that so many individuals keep using the excuse that, “Now is not a good time for a tax.” I must ask, “When will be a good time?” Will it be when our children drink so many sugary drinks that they suffer from diseases that can be prevented; when a walk to the park is replaced by a walk to the 7-Eleven to get a “double gulp drink,” or “when they die before their parents because of the unhealthy options made so readily available by their communities?” While it may be news to some people, those times are today, and something must be done.

This proposed tax would not only promote healthy drink options for children and adults alike, but the money produced by the tax would be reinvested into communities in ways that will actually benefit residents. Jobs will be created; money will be invested into valuable health assets in our community right here such as the KishHealth System, our school districts, community gardens, and even Shabbona might finally be able to see a bike path that would engage our residents in the physical activity and the healthy lifestyles we deserve.

Victoria Novotny


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