Michael Jacobson’s claim that taxing soft drinks is a good idea because they’re “unnecessary” is great recession rhetoric (“Soda’s costs are hidden, but real,” July 7). The argument that soda taxes are an effective preventive health measure is also a timely ruse. But let’s be honest. Jacobson doesn’t just want to tax our lifestyles. He wants to control them.

As Jacobson himself points out, most states already tax soft drinks. But there isn’t any data to show that it has had any impact on obesity rates. The only major study to analyze changes in state soft drink taxes, from 1990 to 2006, found that their impact on people’s weight was minimal.

It’s time to start recognizing the so-called liquid-lifestyle tax for what it really is: a “sin” tax. And anti-soda evangelism has little to do with paying for health care or curbing obesity rates. It’s the same kind of “for your own good” finger-wagging that involves locking up other people’s liquor cabinets and banning salt shakers from restaurant tables.

Haven’t we had enough of this?

J. Justin Wilson
Senior research analyst, Center for Consumer Freedom, Washington, D.C.