POP! Goes The Taxes

As Marina Vergara, 21, gets her money out her purse to get a drink between classes, she tries to decide what to choose from all the vending machine choices. Her choices include: water, sports drinks, juices, and of course sodas.

Vergara chooses to get a soda, inserts her $1.25, selects Dr. Pepper, and pulls her drink from the vending machine. " I love Dr. Pepper! The caffeine and carbonation pick me up to get me through the rest of my classes," Vergara states as she opens her 20 ounce bottle.

What poor Vergara doesn't know is that that exact same 20 oz. soda may cost her 20 cents more sometime soon. The idea of a tax on soda is currently being thrown around in both local and federal governments. The proposed tax is seen as a way to both fight the troubled economy, while trying to promote a healthier lifestyle for the country.

When asked last month about a tax on soda during an interview with the magazine Men's Health, President Barrack Obama stated,"I actually think it's an idea that we should be exploring." He went on to state that too many children are drinking soda, and that he believes it is not the only factor in obesity, but that it is a big one.

Soda is not the only drink that is part of the new tax idea. Although it is commonly called the "Soda Tax," the new tax would most likely affect all sugary drinks, according to the ideas published in the New England Journal of Medicine, which started all the discussion on the tax idea. The proposed idea would be that the tax would be one extra cent, for each ounce of the drink.

One penny doesn't sound like that much, but when you have to pay it for each ounce you drink, it adds up. Vergara will have to get an extra 20 cents out next time she goes to the vending machine, and that's just for 20 ounces. But imagine buying a 12 pack of 12 ounce cans, the tax will charge you an extra $2.40.

In a time when the American people are strapped for cash, would charging them extra for something to drink make sense?

The tax also raises another, besides the economic one, and that is the freedom of choice. Why does the government get to try and force consumers to drink what they think is healthier by taxing the items they want American's to drink less of?

SMC student Kimberly Allen, 19, shares that she often drinks soda, and is nowhere near obese. Allen states, "I don't like being told what to drink by my government, which is basically what they are doing when they tax certain drinks and not others."

Allen, who claims to drink the suggested eight glasses of water a day, also likes to enjoy a nice sugary drink occasionally, but doesn't think one should be taxed, while the other isn't. "If you're going to tax one type of drink, they all need to get taxed. Besides tap water, I guess."

The American Beverage Association isn't taking this matter lightly either. In a press release last month in response to a UCLA study on soda consumption, they stated that "science shows that soft drinks do not uniquely contribute to obesity or any other chronic disease." The press release also notes that after several studies revolving around the link between sugar-sweetened drinks and obesity, reveal that there isn't a direct cause-and-effect relationship between the two.

The American Beverage Association's website even leads to a site for Americans Against Food Taxes, whose homepage states, "Taxes never made anyone healthy." This slogan quickly battles the ideas that a soda tax will increase health in America.

The website also states that, "Real action trumps taxes." American's should be accountable for their actions, not forced into them by taxation. If I want to drink a Coke instead of a bottle of water, I should be able to without having to be taxed.

Will the tax go through? No one really knows at this point. But it is out on the table being discussed, which means the possibility of it being put in effect is there. So go out an by your two-liter sodas, sport drinks, and juice boxes while you can without having to pay an extra added tax just because they have sugar under the ingredients list.