The obesity problem is real, and the soda ban is a lousy solution

First, there are unlimited sources of sugar and fat. If you tax one sugared product, you make the targeted products less attractive–but you also make any number of other sugared products relatively more attractive. If theaters are limited on the size drinks they can sell, they can offer free refills, and throw in “free” candy bars with their large-soda purchases, or offer a buy-one-get-one-free deal. With narrowly targeted bans, people can still get their sugar fixes from a multitude of other venues and sources that are not subject to bans (grocery and convenience stores are not covered). Twinkies, anyone?

Indeed, targeted taxes and narrowly focused bans on offending sodas (and foods) can cause many Americans to consume even more sugar, which means to effectively combat the country’s weight problems, bans and taxes must be ever more expansive and intrusive on individual choices for all Americans…

Second, in the case of tobacco bans and taxes, the bans and taxes could be narrowly targeted and were, and are, endured solely by the offending parties—smokers. Soda (and other fat) bans and taxes will certainly hit the supposed offending parties, but they will also be paid by people who work hard–and suffer real costs—to remain trim. They can also have unintended and unanticipated consequences. Ironically, as research has shown, higher cigarette taxes have contributed to the country’s weight gain by causing reformed smokers and never-smokers to eat more than they otherwise would have.