Saturday, March 14, 2009

Taxing Chocolate! Courageous or Dumb?

Say it isn't so!

A Scottish physician has an extreme - perhaps revolutionary proposal for fighting obesity in the U.K.: A tax on chocolate!

Hold onto your chocolate covered cherries!




Dr. David Walker, a general practitioner from the town of Airdrie, said the candy has become a harmful addiction for too many of his countrymen and is contributing to rising levels of obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Subjecting chocolate to a "sin tax" -- as is done for alcohol and cigarettes -- would help return it to its rightful status as an occasional treat instead of a daily indulgence, he told BBC News.

So guess what - They put his proposal up for debate this week in Glasgow, Scotland at a medical conference. How do you think it went?

Fortunately, the proposal failed by two votes. Dr. Walker remarked: "I am disappointed that the motion was not supported by conference, however, I am pleased that it has stimulated debate on obesity and the worryingly high levels of diabetes in Scotland."

I heard there was a band of housewives picketing the conference and threatening to turn the English Channel into a chocolate milkshake if this proposal passed. Their battle cry was "Remember the Boston Tea Party?" And there leader was someone named Jane. Wow! If they put a sin tax on chocolate, what's next? French Fries? Cookies? Ice Cream? Coffee?

Seriously though, has a sin tax ever curbed the sin? How much of a premium would you have to charge on chocolate before people cut back on their consumption?

Let's hope this is the end of this debate. It could get ugly.

17 comments:

Jane Turley said...

Oh yes, it would get definately get ugly! There's only so much Middle England will put up with - (reels off all labour's bad policies) but taxing chocolate would be one step to far! I don't think even this government would risk annoying the electorate any further so close to an election and sometimes what seems like a little thing can just be the tipping point. Cos when women get mad they get Really Mad!

You beat me to blogging about this important subject! I've been busy rereading Global Warning ready for Monday and since Mr Brown is kindly coming to my house I've got my chocolate chip cookies ready!

(Oh blimey, I love it when I've got an excuse to buy the best ones - with any luck he'll be one of those fella watching his weight and then they'll be all mine!)

intrepidideas said...

You said:
"You beat me to blogging about this important subject!"

No worries Jane... You can post about it - I want to see photos from the protest. Bobbies in Riot gear and such.

Jane Turley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
intrepidideas said...

You think Jerry Springer would help? Maybe you should see Dr. Phil. I'm sorry about the Chocolate covered cherries. How insensitive of me.

dickster1961 said...

Oh you hit on a very sensitive subject for me here II. Not so much the idea of taxing chocolate, but the whole issue of taxes in general.

For instance, let's start with the gasoline taxes. Right now the federal and state governments make more money on a gallon of gasoline that the gasoline companies do (and then they want to demonize evil "Big Oil" for making too much profit). They talk about our need to get off of foreign oil (though we can't drill for our own oil) and to drive more fuel efficient cars (all very worthy goals). Then when we start using less gas, they start to propose taxing us on how many miles we drive instead of how much gas we use.

Same with cigarette and alcohol taxes. On April 9, a new $6.10 per carton cigarette tax goes into effect to fund the SCHIP bill. As somebody in the retail trade, they expect this to reduce sales on cigs by 20% or more. If accurate, they will not get the funds they need for the program and will have to tax something else to fund this.

The government has become insatiable in their need to continue to tax and spend. I read somewhere that if they taxed everyone making $75k per year at a tax rate of 100%, then the US still could not pay for all the new spending signed into law by the Prez.

Goodness gracious, will it ever end?

Heather Dugan ("Footsteps") said...

What a frightening thought! Thank goodness sharper minds prevailed, although, a chocolate flavored English Channel would generate some great tourism (Vendors could sell straws and whipped cream alongside...).
 
Bottom line: Chocolate consumption is no sin -and it probably prevents a few others.

*Akilah Sakai* said...

If it isn't chocolate, people can pudge up off of something else. Like you said, "If they put a sin tax on chocolate, what's next? French Fries? Cookies? Ice Cream? Coffee?" Where there's a will, there's a way. People will still gobble it, smoke it, etc. People have to want to change their diets on their own, not be forced to with a tax. And I just don't think a chocolate tax would curb much obesity, what with all the other high calorie foods out there. You can't tax them all.

Chris said...

A sin tax on chocolate?

I practically went into cardiac arrest when I read that!

Don't DO that!

:)

Sharon, The Queen Blogger said...

Just curious, what's the tax in toothpaste in England? I'm just asking.

dickster1961 said...

Just curious, what's the tax in toothpaste in England? I'm just asking.

Actually, that would be a product of socialized medicine/dentistry rather than a tax to deter the use of such a product

intrepidideas said...

Dickster, it's great to hit on something that one of my buddies is passionate about. I stumbled onto this Chocolate tax thing - But let me know what you think about this post: http://curageousideas.blogspot.com/search?q=tax+protestor

intrepidideas said...

Heather, You said: "Bottom line: Chocolate consumption is no sin -and it probably prevents a few others."

I agree. But it probably leads to a few other sins. (Be creative) So maybe it's a wash! Chocolate lovers unite!

intrepidideas said...

Akilah, you said: "what with all the other high calorie foods out there. You can't tax them all."

Well they probably could. Let's hope they won't or don't try. Like you, I think people have got to make the choice. Will we eventually sue the makers of chocolate for creating such an addictive product? We can always fall back on Gummies... you know what I mean.

intrepidideas said...

Chris, I think we're safe... That tax would put Hershey out of business. That's un-American! :)

Sharon, Dickster.... a subtle joke. I got it! :)

dickster1961 said...

Dickster, it's great to hit on something that one of my buddies is passionate about. I stumbled onto this Chocolate tax thing - But let me know what you think about this post: http://curageousideas.blogspot.com/search?q=tax+protestor

You know, I don't know about the constitutionality angle. I do believe that the founding fathers never intended for there to be an income tax. After all, part of the revolution to gain independence was a tax revolt.

It is interesting that since I read your post on the proposed "chocolate" tax, I heard about another "sin" tax. In Utah where most of the state assembly belongs to the Mormon church, they unanimously passed a motion to pass a sin tax on caffeine.

I tend to believe that the government is a major part of the problem and not the solution. Our country has one of the highest corporate tax rates in the industrial world. I can tell you that any business that I have been a part of has always passed their expenses (including taxes) on to the consumer in higher prices. That is why I get worked up when they start to talk about passing windfall profit taxes on the oil companies. Those taxes will be passed right on to the rest of us. Same with any proposed "cap and trade" for so called manmade global warming.

These days, I support the idea of the FairTax (http://www.fairtax.org) Check out their proposals. Their proposal is designed to be revenue neutral, and progressive; Those that consume the most (the evil rich) will pay the most taxes.

dickster1961 said...

oh, and one more quick comment on the upcoming increase on the excise tax on cigarettes to fund the SCHIP program. I read in a trade journal today about one convenience store chain is estimating that the new tax will reduce their bottom line profit by $1-3 million. How is that for an economic stimulus? I would think that could cost a few jobs in that company.

m8malone said...

The madness goes beyond taxes. The Food Police have crossed the pond. We no longer have the right to use what we want to make our food taste good; have soda or snack machines in certain places, etc.

But when they start messin' with our Chocolate … it's time to take to the streets.

May Your Glass Always Be Half Full