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Keep taxing, for kids' sake

 

The New York State Public Health Association applauds Gov. David Paterson's proposal to increase taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages and cigarettes. 

 

The resulting price increase will reduce soft drink consumption and smoking, especially among children, while raising revenue that will be used to reduce cuts to health care and support prevention efforts. 

 

In reality, the taxes are a healthy kid's initiative. Soda and other sugar-laden drinks have no nutritional value yet have been aggressively marketed directly to vulnerable children. Sugar-sweetened beverages supply 10 percent to 15 percent of total daily calories for both children and adults, according to an April 2009 New England Journal of Medicine article. With that article reporting each additional 12-ounce soft drink consumed per day increases the odds of a child becoming obese by 60 percent, New York's children are paying the price -- 25 percent are now classified as obese, according to the state comptroller's report. 

 

Soft drink and tobacco companies reap the profits while New Yorkers and our cash-strapped health care system get stuck with the bill -- $16 billion in obesity and tobacco-related expenditures yearly, according to the state comptroller and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. 

 

A tax on sugar-sweetened beverages and cigarettes is a triple win: for our children's health, for state revenue and for the majority of the public who support these taxes that protect children. 

 

MICHAEL SESERMAN 

 

Policy chairman, 

 

NYS Public Health Association 

 

Albany 

 

Albany Times Union: Wednesday, February 10, 2010

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