“Sin taxes” on alcohol, sugar and tobacco would reduce the widespread damage that the products do and make society healthier, asserts Sarah Boseley of The Guardian. Such taxes particularly drive lower-income people away from unhealthy products. This is necessary as diseases related to the intake of these products, such as cancers, diabetes, heart disease and strokes have spread dramatically. In fact, they now kill more than traditional, spreadable diseases. They cause 38 million deaths every year, 16 million of which are premature, among those under 70 years of age. “Sin taxes” are the best way to fight this growing epidemic.
“Sin taxes” are a faulty band-aid for a very complex issue, having often backfired, suggests Michael Shindler of Real Clear Health. When England raised taxes on card games too much in the 18th century, it resulted in licensed playing card forgeries surging. A 2008 Australian tax on pre-mixed alcoholic drinks was a factor in driving the consumption of harder liquors instead. Denmark’s own 2011 “fat tax” was blamed for the loss of 1,300 jobs, while people just bought cheaper brands of fatty food or did their fatty shopping in other countries. “Sin taxes” often have adverse effects that aren’t immediately obvious and shouldn’t be implemented.