Addicted to Soda

Soda addiction

Yes, I am an addict.  Like countless millions of Americans, I am addicted to soft drinks. However I am not a big advocate of taxing anything that moves. Drinking too many drinks such as colas can wreck your health just as much as someone smoking tobacco. I understand the concern from the progressives when it comes to the societal cost of our addiction to soda.  However we need to try different solutions aside from taxation as what Los Angeles Times columnist David Lazarus recently advocated for to help alleviate our national public health crisis.

We drink cola because it’s convenient, it has a great taste and it is well marketed since when we were children. We fail to realize the consequences of our choices when we choose the drinks we want to consume.  There are externalities to drinking soda such as wrecking your teeth, kidneys, your weight and the potential to get diabetes.

Personally as a Republican I am not keen on taxation because many politicians have a thirst for funding as how we go to the convenience store to get the 64 ounce or greater beverage. First idea is education, scare the youth to help them make responsible choices. As what Cookie Monster proudly proclaims today, cookies are a sometimes food. The bottle of Coca-Cola needs to become a sometimes beverage. We need to dramatize the garbage we put in our bodies to help produce a message to our children which can also help with adults as well. 65g of sugar in a 20 ounce coke is not good. 50g is the maximum recommended if you have a 2000 calorie diet according to the World Health Organization and many things we consume today are already sweetened. Instead we could consider a beverage such as almond milk and consume 14g of sugar for a 16 ounce glass. Second idea is getting rid of farm subsidies in particular the subsidies on corn. If we make soda more expensive to produce then more people will choose to stay away from soda and other products made cheap due to subsidies. We are subsidizing the production of soda, but if we remove the subsidies there will be no need to tax soda because the people who normally consume the beverage will be priced out of it. Also high fructose corn syrup is worse than actual sugar and actually contributes to obesity. It’s sad when salads are more expensive than a double cheeseburger all thanks to subsidies that make the meat from the cow more affordable.

Soda should not be the sole evil from public health advocates. If people move away from soda, they will buy other beverages that are sugar laden. Orange juice is also a beverage that has 33 grams of sugar in a 12 ounce serving which comes close to Coca-Cola in sugar content. If we are going to be students of Michael Bloomberg, advocates would need to tax orange juice, blended drinks from Starbucks and fruit punch in addition to soda. We naturally crave sugar and it can lead to our downfall. However its individual liberty for people to choose what drinks we want to consume, but we have a paradox when people make the wrong choices and taxpayers having to pay for wrong choices.

I am not getting any younger and I am feeling the consequences of drinking soda where my body is wearing down from my prior choices. Just as much as a cigarette smoker quitting smoking, it will take the same dedication for me to change my refreshment choices.  Perhaps it might also take drug stores to pull out soda and HFCS flavored beverages in their stores just as how CVS removed tobacco to strike a new movement.

Matthew Munson was the former candidate for Senate District 20 in 2014 and occasional contributor to the Juice. 

About Matt Munson