"Open Happiness"

January 31, 2010
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The consumer reaches for the ice-cold aluminum can. A gentle pull and a wave of fizz tingles the face. The refreshment of “open[ing] happiness.” In Coca-Cola’s latest commercial for 2010, they implement this slogan to show consumers how soda evokes joy. Americans love to treat themselves to soft drinks as a sweet, bubbly, and relaxing pleasure to their day. Unfortunately, Uncle Sam wishes to close that happiness for the average American, believing that numerous problems in our society have resulted from increasing soda consumption. Approximately forty states already place a tax on soda but not in an effort to reduce consumption. This envisioned tax would amount to eighteen percent and affect all fifty states. Besides soft drinks, the tax would include iced teas, energy drinks, juice drinks, and flavored milk. The United States government should not institute this proposed higher national tax on soda and other sugary drinks.
Foremost, taxing soft drinks will not lower America’s outrageous healthcare costs. In 2008, healthcare amounted to an average of $7,681 per person according to The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in an article for World News Digest. A large sum of the money goes toward curing people suffering from life-threatening diseases. What diseases prevail as America’s top causes of death? According to the article “America's 10 least wanted: the leading causes of death in the United States” from the publication Current Health 2, coronary heart disease earns the title of the number one cause. It develops through heredity, old age, smoking, and other factors. Following that, cancer arises from smoking, excessive sun exposure, and fatty foods to name a few. Strokes, third on the list, afflict people who smoke, consume excessive alcohol, and do not exercise regularly. High soda consumption has no involvement in the development of all three. Therefore, a soda tax will not stop Americans from contracting the most prevalent causes of death. People will still require the same amount of hospital care, so healthcare costs will undoubtedly continue to rise.

In addition to the first misconception about the soda tax, people feel it will greatly correct the nation’s obesity epidemic; however, the real problems lie elsewhere. High soda consumption has not solely pushed Americans to obesity. It accounts for such a small portion of a person’s daily caloric intake. According to the article “Soda Taxes” from Facts on File News Services, opponents say only 143 calories, or 7% of one’s daily intake, comes from soft drinks. People should put more emphasis on obesity’s real cause. The blame falls on huge portion sizes, high fat food choices, eating on the run or in front of the television, inherited factors, and lack of exercise. Whether a person adds a soda onto their meal instead of water will not skyrocket their BMI. On the other hand, if they always finish their meal at a restaurant despite the enormous portion size, they will start knocking on obesity’s door. West Virginia and Arkansas, as mentioned in the article, already place taxes on soda, yet they rank fifth and sixth in the nation for obesity rates. Why put a tax on soda when it will not even significantly help to solve the obesity epidemic?

Furthermore, a tax on soda and other sugary drinks will not benefit the United States because it will make those beverages unaffordable for lower classes. Lower income Americans purchase soda the most often. When they crave a drink tastier than water, they seek inexpensive soft drinks. Not only will the tax hurt soda’s main consumers but also the most price-sensitive Americans. If it prevails, the price of a twelve pack of soda will rise from about $3.20 to about $4.64 says John Sicher, the publisher of Beverage Digest who commented in the article “Proposed Tax on Sugary Beverages Debated” by the New York Times. The tax will force lower class Americans to stop purchasing soft drinks, seeing as the United States already faces a recession. The American government wants to take away one of the few luxury items the poor can enjoy just because they deem them unhealthy. With the soda tax, the government will undoubtedly close the happiness that arises from drinking soda for lower income Americans.

Proponents of the soda tax may argue that soda and other sugary drinks only add empty calories to an American’s diet, so it only makes sense to tax them. Yes, a can of soda ranks less healthy than a glass of milk, but the government should not just start taxing items solely because they appear bad for one’s health. What will they tax next? Cake? Or french fries? Or doughnuts? Or candy bars? Americans do not need the government restricting their diets. They should have responsibility for their own health choices without facing high taxes. Also, today some soda companies attempt to add health benefits to their beverages. They utilize antioxidants, vitamins, real fruit juice, and diet alternatives. The government should not establish a soda tax purely because some feel soft drinks have no health benefits.

The consumer sets the chilled can back on the table. A soft sigh of content escapes the body, and happiness travels throughout the soul. What could possibly ignite more pleasure and refreshment? A tax on a can of soda would wipe away all the enjoyment. Taxing soft drinks and other sugary drinks will not solve America’s problems, and therefore should not be utilized. If the soda tax reaches enactment, healthcare costs will remain through the roof, obesity rates will not decrease, and soda will become unaffordable for lower income families. All in all, the United States must discover new solutions for its unhealthy lifestyle, not a soda tax. What steps should a person take to prevent this tax from becoming law? Petition your local government against the tax. Explain to them that an American can drink soda and still maintain good health, because it remains the truth.

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