We do this, but it's more a proxy for proper road pricing than a tax.
So your problem is that a tax on high sugar foods/drinks is bad because it’s essential for poor folk to eat/drink these products in a way that it is not essential for them to smoke???
I'm just reflecting on what differences there might be. The bigger one I think is that the link between sugar and obesity is tenuous and poorly understood, where the link between tobacco and cancer is direct.
James, if there is a tax put on sugar at the wholesalers end between say Chelsea and GF Watties, specifically aimed at reducing the use of sugar, why would the manufacturer not change the formulation of their product rather than increasing their price? (Wattie baked beans now have 6 teaspoons of sugar in each can a 100% increase over 15 years)
The exact same logic applies if the tax is exacted at Chelsea, Watties, or Countdown. Manufacturers will make strike whichever balance between increasing prices and reducing sugar ends up with them maximising their profits; and it will be the same balance no matter where the the tax is applied because the only components in play are a) the cost of manufacturing, b) the end price to the consumer, and c) the total value of the tax.
You are assuming that obesity is a health problem only in the poor. While it is biased towards the poor it is pretty widely spread across all income groups.
Not at all - I'm saying that because it is biased towards the poor, any solution which attempts to fix it by increasing price will disproportionately affect the poor, and that's not OK.
But I have a real problem with you repeating arguments that were proven false with respect to tobacco. The harm to rich and poor from tobacco was significantly reduced by increasing the price.
"Proven false" in what way? I'm not suggesting that taxing sugar won't decrease sugar consumption. I'm suggesting that regardless of whether it works or not, it shouldn't be done.
I might be persuaded that sugar and tobacco are qualitatively different enough that the tobacco tax is justified in a way the sugar tax isn't - because tobacco isn't food. If we had tomacco the calculus would be different.
They are not mutually exclusive.
That's right, it's just that one is unethical and the other is not.
The one that worries me is upcoming road pricing/congestion charging – if it does not come with some with subsidies for the poor, it will price them off the roads first.
I mostly agree, although the nuance with road pricing (and ETS/carbon tax) is that poor people use these things proportionately less, so they are inherently progressive. This is somewhat countered by the fact that poor people generally have fewer choices to e.g. move house or renegotiate their working hours to make transport easier. So ideally large improvements in public transport would be implemented before, or at the same time as, congestion pricing, but it's the nature of politics in NZ cities that I don't know what the chances are of that happening...
The thing with using a punitive tax as a way to tackle problems associated with poverty, is that it equates to making already-poor people poorer until they make the decision you want them to. It's treating the symptoms by threatening to make the disease worse.
Worry about poverty first, and any problems which remain will by definition not be driven by poverty. I don't know if it's the easiest or most efficient way to reduce the rates of smoking/drinking/obesity/tooth decay/whatever: it's the only ethically defensible starting point.
(Let's think for a second about why smoking (or example) is more prevalent in people with less money. I mean cigarettes are expensive, right? But they're cheaper than a whole lot of the things which make life enjoyable for the middle classes - cheaper than a home with a view, cheaper than an overseas holiday, cheaper than an education.)
this is also regressive and unfair
or ironically progressive if it improves the health of poorer people the most.
No, the progressive option is always to make poor people less poor.
By taxing the manufacturer it becomes their job to reformulate the food, with less sugars, fats, pesticides etc, which is the objective here.
No, the incentive for them to do this is exactly the same regardless of where the tax is applied.
Dr Toomath comes to the conclusion that a lot of the factors leading to obesity are genetic.
This despite obesity rates skyrocketing since the end of the 1970s? I’m not an endocrinologist, but I don’t have to be one to know genetic factors don’t work like that.
Could also happen if the relevant genes are prevalent in immigrant populations, and the immigration rate goes up.
Guess what - that is exactly the same argument used against raising taxes on cigarettes. more poor people smoke therefore taxing smokes is targeting the poor unfairly.
Yes, this is also regressive and unfair.
The whole point is to make the choice for people simple buy expensive sugary products or cheaper non-sugary products.
...by increasing their overall food spend and pocketing the difference. Still not buying it.