The Daily Feed: Is Soda the New Tobacco?

Are those who compare soda to cigarettes off their rockers? Analogies that once seemed far-fetched have now gained mainstream media play.

Just yesterday, New York Times columnist and author Mark Bittman asked whether soda is the new tobacco. His piece considered not only the White House’s proposed ban on full-sugar sodas in schools, but discussions over the advisability of a penny-per-ounce soda tax. Such taxes have already passed in Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Arkansas, and Tennessee. Other states can’t be far behind.

Just as revenue from cigarette taxes is used, in part, to fund anti-smoking efforts, funds from soda taxes might be used to fund anti-obesity campaigns. Bittman quotes Dr. Kelly Brownell of Yale as saying taxes could even help subsidize fruits and vegetables.

We’re experiencing a perfect storm right now in our national conversation about obesity. Celebrities like Jamie Oliver, who has just devoted his Ted Prize to teaching American kids to cook (more here), politicians like the President and First Lady, and big name media players like Bittman and Michael Pollan, among many others, are sounding their alarm bells in unison.

The message is out. Whether we pay attention is another story.

Cheryl Sternman Rule is a widely published food writer and the voice behind the blog 5 Second Rule.

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