Earlier this week, on the anniversary of Prohibition’s repeal, the World Health Organization (WHO) published an article calling on global governments to increase taxes on alcohol and sugary beverages to interfere with and reduce market consumption.
The WHO reported that several countries globally had what the organization considered to be a low rate of taxes applied to alcoholic drinks and “sugary sweetened beverages (SSBs).”
Researchers at the WHO found it concerning that “the majority of countries are not using taxes to incentivize healthier [behaviors].”
“Globally, 2.6 million people die from drinking alcohol every year and over 8 million from an unhealthy diet; implementing tax on alcohol and SSBs will reduce these deaths,” the WHO claims. Dr. Rűdiger Krech, Director of Health Promotion at the World Health Organization, added, “Taxing unhealthy products creates healthier populations. It has a positive ripple effect across society – less disease and debilitation and revenue for governments to provide public services. In the case of alcohol, taxes also help prevent violence and road traffic injuries.”
The health organization recommends using taxes to leverage people and drive down the alcohol and SSB market. The WHO claims that increasing taxes on alcoholic drinks and SSBs will “cut down [public] use of these products and [will give] companies a reason to make healthier products.”
“Taxes that increase alcohol prices by 50% would help avert over 21 million deaths over 50 years and generate nearly US$17 trillion in additional revenues,” WHO insisted in a social media post.
In the U.K., where an increased tax on sugar was implemented 5 years ago, Christopher Snowdon who works with the Institute of Economic Affairs, claimed that there “is no evidence from anywhere around the world which shows that these policies lead to a reduction in weight, obesity or even overall calorie intake.”
The U.S. has had an infamous, albeit complicated, relationship between beloved beverages and taxation since its inception. Though the British tax on tea stirred outrage among the then-colonialists in 1773, more than a hundred years later during Prohibition (1920-1933) and the Great Depression (1929–1941), New Yorkers took to the streets in favor of a tax on alcohol. Shockingly enough, 100,000 people marched in the Beer for Taxation parade in 1932, demanding an end to Prohibition-era laws prohibiting the production and sale of alcoholic beverages.
Today, however, most Americans don’t appear to be too keen on the idea of federal interference with their purchasing power.
On the WHO’s X (formerly Twitter) post promoting its taxation policy recommendations, several users responded less-than enthusiastically. “Did you learn nothing from the prohibition?” one user asked.
“Oh great ANOTHER tax that will make it even harder for the smaller businesses (like the one I work for) to make a profit.. And 50%?” another user replied. Others stated that the “Unelected rulers” at the WHO need to “Get out of people’s personal lives.”
This piece first appeared at TPUSA.