Are sugary soft drinks the new cigarettes? Sugar, like tobacco, is now shown to cause cancer, as well as contribute to diabetes, obesity, and other health problems. And critics say the soft drink industry is acting an awful lot like Big Tobacco a generation ago: marketing heavily to kids, claiming its products aren't harmful, and lobbying heavily against laws it doesn't like (Big Soda spent $37 million in 2009, most of it to defeat a proposed sugar tax). Is the criticism fair? (Watch a controversial anti-soda PSA)
Of course -- sugar money talks: It's not complicated," says Paul Tullis in True/Slant. "Soda is bad for people’s health.... Taxing stuff that is bad for people discourages people from consuming the bad stuff (see: cigarettes)." So by fighting taxes and funding shell advocacy groups to argue their case in public, Big Soda is using the power of money over the public interest.
"Obesity industry: 1 Democracy: 0"
If people want to get fat, let them: It's none of the nation's business, says the Las Vegas Review Journal in an editorial, if "private consumers of soda pop, beer, cigarettes, or anything else face higher medical bills." It's certainly no justification for curbing the choices open to everyone else. Besides, the nanny-staters' new tax would hit minorities hardest -- how is that fair?
"The soda pop tax"
Yes, only Big Soda is smarter than Big Tobacco: It took cigarette companies decades to claim "marquee roles" as fighters of underage smoking, says Derrick Z. Jackson in The Boston Globe. But Coke and Pepsi instantly endorsed First Lady Michelle Obama's fight against childhood obesity and the role sugary drinks play in it. It's a PR gesture they could afford -- "they have purchased so much silence everywhere else."
"Falsely sweet pledges from trash food companies"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Russia is stealthily threatening America with nuclear war
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- The science of sex: 4 harsh truths about dating and mating
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- 13 Urban Outfitters controversies
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
- What political elites don't understand about Scotland's push for independence
- Is 'feminism' just another word for 'liberalism'?
- Obama knows he can't really 'defeat' ISIS. Americans need to wake up to that reality, too.
- Do you need to be crazy to be the best?
Subscribe to the Week