It's Time We Regulate Food Like Tobacco

The government spends $4 billion a year, pays for 10 billion servings of soda for poor people every year. 

I think we have to put in policies that protect our citizens.  We do that all the time.  We do that with seatbelt laws.  We do that with laws around alcohol and smoking.  We have smoking taxes for cigarettes.  These are things that we’re used to doing and that we accept in our society. 


And yet, we resist it when it comes to food because people say, "Well, everybody has to consume food."  And that's true, but, for example, the food stamp program, what we call the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program now, was put into place in order to put good food into hungry people.  The government spends $4 billion a year, pays for 10 billion servings of soda for poor people every year.  That's something we know causes obesity, we know is a poison, we know accounts for 70 to 90 million cases of liver failure a day from fatty liver - I mean a year.  We know accounts - here, I’ll say that again.  We know accounts for more than 70 to 90 million cases of fatty liver, which affects people all around the country.  We know that that this is a substance which promotes disease and yet we are subsidizing, paying for it.  

So there are some simple policies that we can change.  For example, the soda tax, if you look at the soda tax, it will reduce consumption.  It will provide money for programs to fight obesity.  It will change the pattern of disease in this country.  And the data is clear.  Even Republicans who oppose having books on gays in the library and who want to defund Planned Parenthood, like Ronda Storms from Florida, is in favor of the soda tax, so both sides of the aisle.  This is clearly a problem that can be solved.  

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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