Realizing the profound unfairness of a $1.50 per pack increase in the cigarette tax along with additional tax increases on the purchase of alcoholic beverages, I’ve been pondering some kind of holier-than-thou tax to complement the sin taxes that our Legislature turns to when seeking operating funds. Making about 20 percent of Oklahomans – and proportionately the poorest of our neighbors – fund governmental services certainly runs counter to our Oklahoma spirit of fair play. I’ve found a tax that would satisfy the rationale used to justify the cigarette tax increase to fund health issues – since smokers are prone to worse health than the righteous, doncha know.
Having established last week that the cigarette tax hike amounts to about a 30 percent increase per purchase, let’s just tack a 30 percent tax increase onto every purchase of ice cream.
Just think. Every day as the caravan creeps down Highway 81 toward the ice cream shop, our impatience at people slowing down four lights before their turn would be mitigated by our knowledge that these sturdy citizens were on their way to fund state government. And, every other ice cream purchase could make that same contribution.
The good people of Oklahoma have decided that smokers deserve their tax increase because of the health issues linked to cigarette smoking. But, obesity and diabetes are also health issues – and problems that can be exacerbated by heavy ice cream consumption. The same reasoning has to hold in both instances. And, while nicotine is highly-addictive, you only have to search “sugar addiction” on the Internet to find plenty of ways to curb your sugar cravings.
Mercola (Take Control of Your Life) claims “76 ways in which sugar could pose a significant threat to your health, divided into four categories: increased risk of diseases and sicknesses, nutrient imbalance or deficiency, bodily impairments and behavioral changes.” Later, we’re informed: “Massive sugar addiction can result in obesity, diabetes, heart damage or failure, cancer cell production, depletion of brain power and shorter life spans.”
Jordan Gaines Lewis of CNN last March observed, “Like drugs, sugar hijacks the brain’s reward pathway, evidence suggests.” His very technical report has sections titled “Sugar: natural reward, unnatural fix;” “Sugar addiction is real” and “Sugar withdrawal is also real.” Thus, we can use the same arguments against ice cream eaters that we aim at smokers. Make them pay monetarily for the physical damage they are inflicting upon themselves. The state could use the money – and a greater proportion of us would be paying the bill. We might even be able to reduce both taxes to about 15 percent each. Soda pop might even be added to the anti-sugar tax base, too – including diet pops since the jury vacillates on the harmful effects of the sugar substitutes and their tendency to send their drinkers to other sugar sources.
Not a smoker, and a limited ice cream eater who swore off soft drinks about three years ago, maybe I need to move from one to two beers a week – or take a few more in-state road trips.
(Gary Edmondson is Stephens County Democratic Party Chair.)