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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