The New York Daily News reported yesterday that, just in time for Halloween, Governor David Paterson pledged to raise his sugar-sweetened beverage tax from the dead. And dead it is. Even the Governor acknowledges the chilly reception lawmakers gave last winter to his proposal to slap an 18 percent tax on soda. (Eighteen percent was coincidentally the same as the abysmally low percentage of public support for the tax.)
Paterson might be thinking that he can get political cover from New York City’s anti-soft drink ad campaign in the city’s subway system. But as we told Boston Herald readers yesterday, using food and beverage taxes as a tool for social engineering isn’t very scientific:
Research at Harvard University also concluded that there was not a strong link between weight gain and the intake of snack foods, including soft drinks.
An economic analysis conducted this year determined that the government would have to tax soda at a rate of 1,200 percent to actually make a dent in obesity.
Paterson has already backtracked once before, claiming that his real goal in taxing sugar-sweetened beverages was to “increase awareness for the high caloric content of foods consumed by children, who unlike adults aren’t in a position to make their own choices.”
So we have to wonder: Does the Governor think New York grown-ups lost awareness a few months later?