Bloomberg vs. Soda

 

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is at it again, stirring up controversy and attempting to tackle obesity on an international level.  Bloomberg’s foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, has delivered a three-year $ 10 million grant to Mexico’s National Institute of Public Health to be used for advertising and research promoting the fight against obesity.  In correlation with this support, President Enrique Pena Nieto has proposed a “soda tax”, a tax on the sale of all sugary drinks, and factions from all over the spectrum have joined the debate on the issue.  On one side of the debate are public health proponents and experts, and on the other side are the goliath soft drink and bottling companies, as well as the internal sugar cane farmers and neighborhood storeowners.

While Bloomberg is not the whole story, it is interesting that after his failed attempt at banning 16 oz. sodas in New York, he is now trying again in a different way.  All I know is I hope to not see Mr. Bloomberg sipping on a soda on a beach in Mexico.  Approximately 70% of the Mexican population is overweight, similar to the United States.  The Bloomberg Philanthrophy Foundation sees this model of funding and support as one that can be used in many other countries if successful in this attempt at Mexico.    A researcher in the Health Economy Department of the National Institute of Public Health of Mexico estimates that a 10 percent tax on sugary drinks would reduce consumption by 10-13 percent and reduce the overall rate of obesity.  I personally think there is nothing wrong with what Bloomberg is doing.  If he wants to donate money to institutions combatting unhealthy behavior, then that is not a bad way to spend his money.  Additionally, while it is unfortunate if this tax will affect the livelihood of some Mexican workers, I do not think the tax will have a big enough impact on the industry to displace a large portion of workers.  What do you think?

New York Times

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3 comments

  1. I do agree with what the soon to be former Mayor Bloomberg is doing by donating money to help raise awareness and get people more education about the food and drink they put in their bodies. I believe however his failed ban on soda and this tax idea is not the way to go. In my mind, I only equate this soda tax to a “sin tax” like taxes on cigarettes and alcohol. While the theory of increasing taxes to price out the bad stuff will make people stop consuming these products, there is also a good amount of people who will just pay up with a moan and a groan. Like in NYC where a pack of cigarettes runs up to about $13-14 due to a state tax and the city tax on cigarettes, plenty of people still smoke them. Living and going to undergrad in NYC with students pinching pennies, cigarettes were still bought and consumed regularly.

    I disagree about the possible effect on workers. It could hurt many jobs by trying to price out consumers with taxes. Without consumers to buy the products, the corporations who want to maximize profits for shareholders will cut the employees to make up for the taxes and the priced out consumer profits they lost due to a double negative their industry just received.

    My opinion on the matter is to make sure people get proper awareness and education about what they put in their bodies. I am a non-smoker because I lost older relatives to cancer caused by smoking for years and due to the education I accumulated over the years about smoking’s health hazards. One of the big things older relatives say is that smoking was “in” and there was little education on the health effects of smoking. If we can get real education awareness like what Mr. Bloomberg is attempting to do with his donations, people in Mexico can be better aware that there are healthy alternatives to soda and the health effects of drinking too many soft drinks loaded with sugar and carbohydrates can greatly attribute to obesity. Knowing the health hazards that obesity brings to the body like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, etc can help make the citizens of Mexico make healthier choices in what they consume.

  2. I agree with what Bloomberg is doing. Although his law was shot down in New York City, his intentions were good and were trying to raise awareness and education people on obesity and how harmful soda could be. The problem with placing a tax on soda is that it will probably not have much of an impact on the consumption. With respect to the United States, if people want to drink soda, they will pay for it. It is similar to the tax on cigarettes, people are still smoking packs per day regardless of the price.

    Applying this tax to Mexico may be different than in the United States. Mexico’s average income is much lower than the United States’. Thus, their citizens will have less discretionary spending in which they would spend on soda. When buying groceries, they will opt for the less expensive beverages due to the price hike of soda. This price hike will disincentivize the purchasing and consumption of soda, and thus lead to potential lower consumption.

    This law might be unpopular in Mexico, as it was in the New York City, but it could have beneficial effects for the people of Mexico due to their economic situation.

  3. I agree that there is nothing wrong with what Bloomberg is doing. Choosing to combat obesity is a phenomenal way to contribute to improving the livelihood of people, especially when rates are so high in that nation. Although I must say, that if his goal is to positively affect the lives of the Mexican people, there are other things to donate the $10 million towards. Aside from the it being a center for its outsourcing, Mexico is an important market for Coca Cola. According to the Wall Street Journal, the company invested about $1 billion dollar in the Mexican market (a part of their $5 billion, five-year investment plan) last year.

    Bloomberg’s actions will certainly have a ripple effect. The question remains where and how. I am very interested in seeing the effects of this donation, the resulting tax proposal by President Peña Nieto and Coca Cola’s reaction, if any.

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