The case for taxing soda is thin – a case of soda would yield as much tax as a teaspoon of the stuff

A calorie tax would come from the whisky but not the soda.

A calorie tax could be collected from the whisky but not the soda.

Alf has not been paying attention to what the fat fanatics have been up to lately.

Accordingly he missed their calls for this country to introduce a soda tax.

He was alerted to this development by the good people at the Taxpayers Union.

They issues a press statement yesterday that said:

Reacting to the call for soda taxes from University of Auckland Professor Boyd Swinburn, and University of Otago Associate Professor, Nick Wilson, Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director, Jordan Williams, says:

“Denmark’s tax on saturated fat introduced in 2011 was an economic disaster. The Danish tax was abandoned 15 months later and did little, if anything, to reduce harmful consumption. Worse, it was estimated to have cost 1,300 jobs. Why would New Zealand want to repeat this mistake?”

“Taxing the Kiwi tradition of a warm pie and can of cola won’t reduce obesity. The overseas experience tells us that it just leads to compensatory purchasing and brand switching.”

“There is no doubt that we have an obesity problem in New Zealand. But health academics too often ignore the economic evidence that taxing an inelastic product won’t affect the consumption of those consuming too much. Tap water is free, but people still choose to pay for bottled water. A tax on soda won’t stop people from over-indulging.”

Now, Alf is bound to say he knows all about the fat police gunning for some of his favourite foods, such as a a mince pie with cheese.

He does not know much about inelastic products but does not care much about whether they are taxed because he is sure he does not include these things in his diet.

Nor – until now – did he know the fat fanatics and sugar shock troops had their eyes on soda water.

But he is inclined to let them go right ahead and does not share the Taxpayers Union’s hostility to the idea.

He suggests the tax be based on the number of calories in each bottle of the stuff.

How much would the food fanatics collect?

Fuck all.

Let’s start with a definition:

Carbonated water (also known as club soda, soda water, sparkling water, seltzer water, or fizzy water) is water into which carbon dioxide gas under pressure has been dissolved. Some of these have additives such as sodium (seltzer water is almost always composed of water and carbon dioxide with no other additives). This process, known as carbonation, is a process that causes the water to become effervescent. For people who enjoy drinking soft drinks, carbonated water can provide a calorie and sugar-free substitute.

So the tucker taxers will be taxing a product that serves as a calorie and sugar-free substitute.

But they are such fanatics it’s a fair bet they will want to go ahead, anyway.

Oh, and then there’s the challenge of ensuring the tax system captures every drop of the evil stuff.

This will require an invasion of our households because…

The vast majority of carbonated water is sold in ready to drink bottles as mineral water and carbonated beverages such as soft drinks. However it is rather easy to prepare at home with soda makers.

And now to check out the question of how much money will be collected from a tax based on calories.

Mrs Grumble found this dismaying information about the calorie content.

It suggests the tax take will be the same from a bottle of soda as from a bloody great vat of the stuff.

The calorie content is zero.

Alf could suggest a way of making a drink with soda that would generate more income than a tax on soda alone.

It’s to pour the soda on to a shot of whisky.

A calorie count can then be recorded.

But Alf will make no such suggestion. First, he does not want to aid and abet the food fanatics in any wise. And second, if there is to be any law change on the matter of soda, it should be to ensure it is never ever mixed with a good scotch.

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2 Responses to The case for taxing soda is thin – a case of soda would yield as much tax as a teaspoon of the stuff

  1. Simon B says:

    Love the article but are you confusing American soda like coca cola with the carbonated water you add to Scotch? There is to be no tax on calorie free products.

    • Alf Grumble says:

      Mmm. Actually, Alf was not confused. He suspects the Taxpayers Union might be – hence in his good-humoured way he aimed to draw attention to the fact that the soda which some uncivilized persons toss into their scotch (not the American pap) has no calories in it. Hence there’s not much point in taxing it. The food fanatics, of course, more specifically declare their aim is to have a tax slapped on fizzy drinks, or soft drinks, or sugary drinks…

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