Guiffre: Soda tax will help alleviate D.C. obesity, health crisis

Junior Justin Guiffre, a Hatchet senior columnist, defends the proposed D.C. soda tax and the results it will have on the health of D.C. residents.

In the time it takes me to write this column, I will have finished all 20 ounces of a delicious Dr Pepper. I will have consumed 2.5 servings of soda, 64 grams of sugar, and if I drank one soda a day I would gain an average of 10 pounds over the next year. What did my carbonated corn syrup cost me? $1.25. What is it going to cost if the D.C. City Council approves Mary M. Cheh’s new soda tax? One cent more for every ounce, for a total of $1.45. And I would happily pay that tax.

Criticism of this new tax comes in a few forms. Opposing the measure from the D.C. City Council itself is councilmember Jack Evans. His concerns come from a similar “snack tax” that failed in the 1990s. Ellen Valentino, president of the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Beverage Association, has promised her organization and retailers will fight the bill. Others, mostly those who love any excuse to use the phrase “big government,” argue the D.C. City Council shouldn’t be trying to control how people eat through taxes.

For me, none of these arguments hold water (or soda if you prefer). The truth is, D.C. faces a serious public health crisis and the soda tax is a perfectly sound initiative to solve some of the District’s problems.

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