BP #6 Tax Sugary Drinks, Save Lives

The World health organization encouraged many countries to implement a sales tax on sugary drinks. The rationale behind this urged claim is that it would help fight the obesity epidemic, diabetes, and tooth decay, as well as many other beneficial health effects. The proposed idea would raise the price of sugary drinks about 20%. This would surely result in a decline in consumption.  Dr. Douglas Bettcher, director of the W.H.O.’s Department for the Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases, said in a statement: “If governments tax products like sugary drinks, they can reduce suffering and save lives.  They can also cut health care costs.”

In terms of the ethical side of this dilemma, the question becomes, is this right?  Is it fair to tax something that many people enjoy and essentially take a piece of their freedom away?  The answer is yes, if we base this answer on the Social Contract Theory. This theory tells us that actions are morally right (sales tax on soda) if it is permitted by rules that free, equal, and rational beings would agree to live by, assuming that others obey this rule too. Being the rational beings that we are, taxing unhealthy sugary  drinks should be an easy solution for solving the growing health problems of many people. But critics will argue that it does not show equality to those who do enjoy these drinks, are poor, or do not have health problems. But critics must understand that inequality is acceptable only to the extent that it remains beneficial to the least advantaged member of a society. Taxing drinks will no doubt benefit everybody in society. After realizing this, I’m not sure there are any arguments left to be had about taxing something that is helping take lives away from people.

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