Last week, a left-leaning think tank in Great Britain formally endorsed a “fat tax” on processed and fast foods. Making no bones about its policy recommendations, the organization Demos told reporters that “we could use [a] tax to… provide a disincentive for unhealthy foods.” The Independent provided a glimpse into the future, predicting an addendum to grocery receipts that would read: “Fat Tax @ 10%: £6.70 — Eating Poorly Costs You More.”
Closer to home, The Boston Globe reports that U.S. public health “experts” like Yale’s Kelly Brownell and Harvard’s Walter Willett are frustrated by congressional inaction on “twinkie tax” proposals. This could leave the door wide open for human lawsuit factories like tobacco crusader John Banzhaf to pick up the slack. Banzhaf, the Globe says, wants to “hold companies accountable for rising obesity in America.” And if Capitol Hill proves to be a fruitless forum for this particular brand of social engineering, Banzhaf certainly isn’t above seeking a change of venue. “If we can’t legislate,” he says, “we’ll litigate.”
But Banzhaf’s litigation campaign is built on the flimsiest of foundations, even by a trial lawyer’s slippery standards. Banzhaf is fond of connecting Ronald McDonald to Joe Camel, while ignoring the fact that food simply is not addictive. And so far his only legal victories over restaurants have had nothing to do with fat or nutrition.