Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Forget Tobacco, Tax Refined Sugar


October 19, 2017

If Haines Borough seeks to raise new funds from vice taxes why not “go big.” The assembly set a low bar—taxing marijuana, an industry that doesn’t exist, and the tobacco users--about 15% of citizens and at a 50 year low in the USA. As a means to bridge fiscal shortfalls, this appears to be a fairly weak solution. A recent suggestion aired on KHNS to tax the sweetened beverages, rather than the chokes and the weed, could, as the speaker suggested, have a broader impact on revenue and health. It might also be more equitably distributed, as a broad cross-section of the Haines populous and the nation are sugar addicted.

Americans are obesity champions: leading the world in expanded waistlines, heart disease and diabetes. One principal cause is that we also lead the world in per-capita refined sugar consumption--on average 126 grams/day/person— about five times the do-not-exceed limit set by the World Health Organization. Should we limit prospective tax targets to the fizzy pop, Red Bull, etc.? What about the pre-sweet industrial breakfast, Pop-Tarts and those glorious, fresh-baked apple fritters (yum!)? All send your tri-glycerides off the chart--so tax ‘em!

Our exploding rates of diet-related chronic disease, and the inter-linked health care and insurance crises, effect every man, woman and child. Driving down refined sugar consumption--through taxation or any other means—is a legitimate, integral form of economic development, would increase community-wide vitality, sustainability--and raise a pile of new revenue.

Burl Sheldon


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