For years the self-anointed “food police” have yearned to use the tax code to influence what Americans eat and drink. They’ve shopped a form of nanny state around to states and localities, arguing that targeted taxes on soda (and sometimes other foods they don’t like) can both raise money for revenue-addicted politicians as well as cause people to eat healthier foods.
Scientific research has cast doubt on the theory that these “sin” taxes on food cause anyone to lose weight. And as these public health nannies have found out, these measures are quite unpopular with the public. Now lawmakers are taking heed.
In Cook County, Illinois, commissioners last week repealed the jurisdiction’s two-month-old soda tax by a whopping 15-to-1 vote. The measure was met with legal challenges and defiance from some consumers, who reportedly driving to Indiana to buy groceries. “It doesn’t matter if you tax tea or sugar,” said one commissioner. “Eventually people say ‘enough is enough.’”
The people also spoke earlier this year in Santa Fe, where 58 percent of voters rejected a soda tax on the ballot. Philadelphia’s soda tax is facing scrutiny in the state legislature, and it has already lost in the court of public opinion. And state lawmakers in Michigan just passed a law forbidding localities from taxing food and soda, recognizing the futility of these measures.
When will the soda taxers learn that Americans don’t want the government managing their shopping lists?