It’s a fact that Mexicans drink more soda per capita than their neighbors to the north. However, the Mexican food police – having failed at convincing people to voluntarily give up their soft drinks for water – are now trying to coerce change by trotting out a tired but familiar proposal: taxing soda to reduce consumption. It’s an idea that American consumers have rejected time and again, but international food cops are hoping they’ll find better luck abroad.
The anti-soda brigade south of the border includes notorious “Twinkie tax” creator Kelly Brownell, who made a Mexico City appearance this week in support of the effort, and Alejandro Calvillo, a former executive director of Greenpeace’s Mexico office who now heads up activist group Consumer Power. Calvillo wants to see Mexico levy a whopping 20 percent tax on every can of soda sold in the country, reports Fox News Latino:
He recalled that the World Health Organization, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the United Nations have called on the government to take measures against this epidemic, but "they have been ignored."
Calvillo also cited the statement by Health Secretary Angel Cordova, who said that the obesity problem has gone beyond the capability of the public health system to deal with it, and predicted that in six years the cost of addressing obesity-related health problems will equal the system's current annual budget of $14 billion.
A tax on soda pop "would bring about a 16-24 percent drop in consumption," which would in turn lead to fewer calories being ingested and would be a boon to household budgets, from which "more is currently spent on soft drinks than on eggs, beans and tortillas," Calvillo said.
But Calvillo is dead wrong about such a huge tax being “a boon to household budgets.” Mexicans are some of the most impoverished people in the Americas, and a regressive tax like this one does nothing but punish people for making purchasing choices Calvillo and his fellow activists disagree with. Where’s the “consumer power” in that?