The cigarette tax "was the biggest health care breakthrough in the last 40 years in the United States," and its successor may be the 18% tax on non-diet soda New York Gov. David Patterson is pitching, writes Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times. Not only do empty calories in soda contribute significantly to the obesity epidemic, but soft drinks even have a lung cancer equivalent: diabetes, which helps kill 200,000 Americans a year.
“In effect, the most promising cure for lung cancer didn’t emerge from a medical research lab, but from money-grubbing politicians,” Kristof contends. He calls for "a public health campaign to change social behavior, adding: "A starting point is to recognize that risky teen behavior these days can involve not just alcohol, drugs, or sex but also extra-large Cokes."