We periodically flog the people who want to place onerous taxes and regulations as prohibitionists who know better than to state their far-reaching aims—except when they do state their aims. Some are very open that they want little more than total control over other people’s diets, and if we needed any more evidence that activists like Robert Lustig will not rest until soda is banned outright—so much for the “penny per ounce” tax—we have it. Just look at the name of the conference he presented to this week: “Sugary Drink Free Pacific By 2030.”
Lustig repeated his completely groundless claim that sugar is uniquely harmful to a pressure group of activists that want Australia and New Zealand to ban soft drinks, stating sugar is somehow the “alcohol of the child.” (Last we checked, nobody — not even a child — got drunk off cola.) As Americans reject plans to tax, regulate, and prohibit commonly consumed soft drinks, activists are turning to more regulation-friendly foreign countries to create a false “global consensus” that “Something Must Be Done.”
Back at home, activists hide behind promises that taxes or “portion cap rules”—the P.R.-tested name for New York’s soda ban—but even the most poll-tested proposals have not resonated with the American people. Voters know that soft drinks provide only a small portion of our daily calorie intakes—seven percent, according to government data—and that targeting them for bans won’t make people slimmer. One thing that can contribute to weight loss is exercise, so when people tell activists to “Take a hike,” realize it’s just for their own good.