Today, the non-profit Center for Consumer Freedom lambasted New York State Assemblyman Felix Ortiz (D-Brooklyn) for his proposed legislation, bill number A00843, which seeks to place one-quarter of a percent tax on the sale of all items listed as snacks or sweets by the USDA National Nutrient Database. This even includes healthier options such as granola bars, low-fat popcorn, and brown rice cakes.
This is Assemblyman Ortiz’s second attempt to enact such not-so-sweet taxes. In 2003, Ortiz introduced similar legislation described as a "couch potato tax." Ortiz, a notorious "food cop," has sponsored other pieces of nanny state legislation in the past including prohibiting the use of salt by restaurants in food preparation.
“Assemblyman Felix Ortiz is hell-bent on making his fellow New Yorkers’ food as bland and expensive as possible,” said J. Justin Wilson, CCF’s Senior Research Analyst. “This bill is another aggressive move by food elitists like Ortiz who want to allow government officials to invade and control the private food choices of New Yorkers.”
Despite Assemblyman Ortiz’s many efforts, study after study has shown that taxing foods is an ineffective policy to trim down the waistlines of Americans. A 2005 study published in the Review of Agricultural Economics calculated that even a 20 percent tax on potato chips would only result in a weight loss of just one-quarter of a pound over a whole year for a potato-chip eater. That’s just four ounces of fat.
Wilson continued, “How about regulators at swimming pools ensuring people don't swim within 30 minutes of eating? Levying a fine on anyone who snacks before dinner? Establishing a squad of ‘Floss Police’? Let’s hope for New Yorkers’ sake this bill, like Ortiz’s 2003 proposal, meets its demise in New York’s legislature.”