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A Weighty Economic Problem

Updated on August 6, 2011

Tax Alcohol and Tobacco

Sin Tax

In the 1970’s some countries, faced with economic problems and struggling with increasing health costs, introduced a “Sin Tax”.

This sin tax was extra taxes added to nicotine and alcohol products.

The reasoning was: Although the governments did not want to prohibit a person’s right to choice, Nicotine addiction and over use of alcohol was taking a disproportionate percentage of the medical budgets and was unfair for people who chose to avoid these products, to have to pay extra for those who didn’t.

This meant that cigarettes and alcoholic beverages received a higher taxation and the proceeds, supposedly going to the health industry. This in turn, reduced the pressure of health needs on the rest of the budget, freeing up funds for other purposes.

American Economy

Today in America, there is an economic crisis. Somehow it has to raise more money [taxes] or reduce spending, preferably both.

Some say that the answer lies in taxing the rich more. In theory, I would agree with this but it has to be done carefully, if at all. If the rich think they are being unfairly taxed, they could move their assets abroad or even move themselves. This would not particularly help the overall problem and could even add to it.

The biggest expenses for the Government are Military, Health and Public Sector.

It is hard to reduce military spending when they are at war but still cuts can be made by increasing efficiency in none war zone areas. Public sector cuts, no matter how painful or unpopular most be made.

Healthy Tax

United States Obesity
United States Obesity
Normal. Overweight. Obese.
Normal. Overweight. Obese.

Health Care

This leaves us with the health care industry. I believe that funding could be increased by adding a “Weight Tax”. This is not to say that, you are overweight and so pay more tax but to pay more tax on the items that contribute to people being overweight.

America is getting bigger or at least Americans are. Estimates from 2004 show that 70% of Americans were overweight, half of whom were considered to be obese.

In 2003, an estimated $75 billion was spent on problems relating to obesity.

In 2005, of all adults between the ages of 17 and 24, 27% were considered to be too obese for military service.

No matter how many fitness centers you see or diet products are on the shelves, these figures continue to rise, draining the assets of the health services.

I know that to eat healthy can be expensive and often people say that they can only afford to eat the cheap, fast foods available. This may be true and it is this that has to change.

Taxation must be applied so that the big ½ pound Burger dripping in fat is still available but is more expensive than a nourishing meal.

The whole concept of fast food needs to be overhauled with a view to health. Grocery products should be taxed according to their health value. Healthy foods perhaps receiving reductions and unhealthy foods having taxes added.

I, myself smoke, drink alcohol and am overweight but I make my own choices.

Although it is not the Governments job to tell us what we can and cannot eat, it is their responsibility, with their accessibility to experts, that they guide us, through taxation if need be, in what is healthy, not just for us but also for our country.


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    • d.william profile image


      6 years ago from Somewhere in the south

      Nice concept, but what about that almighty 'free enterprise' we keep trying to protect? Making the junk foods more expensive than healthy foods would certainly hurt the rich who make the junk stuff. They might get mad and move their junk stuff to other countries? We can't have that.

      All this talk about raising taxes on the rich is another ludicrous argument. It is not NEW taxes that anyone is defending, it is the reduced tax rates, loop holes, kick backs, government bonuses (subsidies), etc... that the wealthy really do not need to run their businesses. OK, it might hurt their annual net profits, but what the hell, all those breaks they are getting now has done nothing for job growth, or even serve as insurance against them moving to other countries. The supreme court has ruled that corporations are now equivalent to the individual, so let them pay their fair share at least. Greedy bastards.

      And there is another problem- those dam insurance companies with their multi-trillion a year net profits that go into personal bank accounts at the expense of the tax payer, since there is not one single thing that is worth anything that the insurance companies do not have some control over.

      OK, i will stop. you get my point, but there are many more things that really irk me, that the American people have no say in.

    • Tony DeLorger profile image

      Tony DeLorger 

      6 years ago from Adelaide, South Australia

      Completely agree rafken. I think this is a great idea as we could all do with some support. The fast food industry in Australia is the same; its much cheaper to buy crap than a healthy meal. It shouldn't be like that. Great hub.

    • Der Meister profile image

      Der Meister 

      6 years ago from Virgo Supercluster

      I agree with the informed part, but not with the taxes part. People still smoke and drink. Anyway, when it comes to information the movie Super Size Me explains it very well.

    • rafken profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from The worlds my oyster

      Der - It always has to be our choice. Keeping us informed and encouraging us to work together IS part of their responsibility.

    • Der Meister profile image

      Der Meister 

      6 years ago from Virgo Supercluster

      "Although it is not the Governments job to tell us what we can and cannot eat, it is their responsibility, with their accessibility to experts, that they guide us, through taxation if need be, in what is healthy, not just for us but also for our country."

      No, it's not their responsibility. It is one's own responsibility to make better choices.

    • profile image

      Howard Schneider 

      6 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

      I agree with you Rafken. Sin taxes are appropriate for governments to assess both for curbing some unhealthy behaviors as well as paying for the healthcare needs that rise from them. Excellent Hub.


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