Is a soda tax a good idea?

The California Center for Public Health Advocacy released a county-by-county analysis today showing that a 1-cent per ounce tax on sugary drinks would raise millions of dollars for local schools and pay for anti-obesity initiatives. Contra Costa alone would see $39 million, while Alameda County would collect $51 million.

That sounds mighty sweet for schools and agencies that have watched their budgets drain faster than an ice-cold Coke on a hot summer day.

Read my full story here.

As Americans gain girth and contract costly obesity-related health problems, a good deal of blame has been heaped upon our unending demand for sweetened sodas, vitamin waters, sports drinks and teas. Scientists have found that our bodies don’t register drink-born calories in the place in our brain that tells us we are full at the same rate as solid food, so we drink our calories.

But a soda tax irks some consumers as excessive government nannyism. After all, lots of things are bad for us. Bacon. Red meat. Sourdough bread bowls in downtown San Francisco. Pretty much everything sold at those cinnamon bun stalls at the mall.

Cigarette and booze taxes are tolerated as “sin taxes” but is it sinful to drink a Pepsi?

Soda tax proponents know they face considerable challenges, both in the legislature and with the public. But most social changes take time and they say they aren’t giving up.

Lisa Vorderbrueggen