Taxes on sugary drinks, tobacco are needed to maintain healthy society

The government is not the enemy here; yes, it controls aspects of our lives that we may disagree with at times but it is only to keep our nation from turning into complete chaos.

The recent ban on peanut butter in many elementary schools may have seemed ridiculous to those of us who grew up eating daily lunchtime PB&J sandwiches, but it was for the well-intended purpose of protecting children with peanut allergies.

When the Board of Supervisors supported a measure to restrict the sale of plastic water bottles in the city, it was not a decision meant to destroy the water-falling hopes and dreams of plastic bottle users. It was a smart decision to help decrease the waste caused by enormous amounts of plastic that harm Earth.

Along with these bans, the most recent proposed taxing of sugary drinks may seem like the ultimate pointless idea to some but if those people would view the larger picture and have a little confidence in San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors, they might see things a bit differently.

The group of supervisors who proposed the measure for the 2014 ballot have the city’s best interests at heart, as they did for measures like the peanut butter and water bottle bans. They are simply attempting to do something about the country’s obesity epidemic at the city level and their idea just might work. Results have already been shown from increased taxes on tobacco products.

In 2012, a tobacco journal interviewed thousands of smokers in states where taxes had increased. The study revealed that people who smoked the most cigarettes a day — 40 or more — had the biggest decline in smoking cigarettes. This shows that increasing taxes on such an addictive product may provide hope for a similar result with sugary drinks.

Some things are just too big for residents to handle on their own. Soda and other sugary drinks are products that need to be monitored and, as much as people may hate it, taxed. It is not like the Board of Supervisors is out to get us, either.

In February, SFBay reported on the positive outcome of the measure, saying that, “if passed, the tax is expected to raise approximately $30 million a year for the city. Forty percent would be earmarked for schools, 25 percent for parks, 25 percent for the Department of Public Health and 10 percent for community-based health groups.”

Those who only want to take a selfish angle on the sugary drink tax, most likely because they want their drinkable sugar untouched and untaxed, are closing their minds to the many benefits of the tax that exceed any negative ones. This tax could help decrease an ever-increasing obesity rate in the U.S. It may be true that the city doesn’t boast a high obesity rate itself but prevention will help keep all residents fit and healthy.

The state has already taken part in a campaign to curb the obesity epidemic through California Project Lean. The project aims to provide people with educational tools and resources to encourage smarter decisions when it comes to exercise and healthier food and drink options.

Billboards and posters from this project can be seen displaying the statement, “You wouldn’t eat 22 packs of sugar. Why are you drinking them?” This project, along with Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move program that is designed to solve childhood obesity, try to address this epidemic but in their own ways.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors isn’t trying to ruin your life by taxing sugar and tobacco, or by banning water bottles and peanut butter. It’s trying to make San Francisco the healthiest and safest it can be for everybody.

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  • A place in which all manner of things are forbidden is hardly healthy, just as hypochondriacs aren’t healthy, even though they’re hyperconcerned for their health. San Francisco, despite its history as a mecca of freedom, sounds like a pretty uptight place.