DAVE ROSS

A doctor’s argument supporting soda taxes in Seattle

Feb 24, 2017, 5:44 AM | Updated: 9:26 am
soda taxes, soda tax...
Seattle has proposed a 2 cent per ounce soda tax. Jannes Fockele, Flickr

Imagine you are out at a restaurant and a person at the next table takes out eight packets of sugar. They then proceed to pour that sugar into a glass of water and drink it.

“You’d be pretty shocked and say that’s some odd behavior,” said Dr. Kenneth Margulies, a cardiologist. “But that’s what’s engineered into each and every 12-ounce can (of soda).”

“As a physician, I was completely unaware of that proportion, and for good reason,” he said. “They don’t want to advertise how much sugar is in the drinks people consume.”

Related: Soda tax proposed for Seattle

That’s an example that Margulies gives when talking about soda taxes. He specializes in heart failure and lives in Philadelphia where a soda tax was implemented in January. The City of Philadelphia is a snapshot of Seattle’s future if the city passes a similar tax. During the first month of Philadelphia’s 1.5 cent per ounce tax, the city received $5.7 million, according to Philly.com. It only expected a return of $2.3 million.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray proposed a 2 cents per ounce tax in his State of the City address on Tuesday. The funds will be used to address disparities in education. Legislation for the tax has yet to be considered by city officials.

An argument for soda taxes

Dr. Margulies argues that no matter which way you approach a soda tax, it’s a positive change in Philadelphia and would be for Seattle, too.

“They netted $5.7 million in new revenue,” he said. “So clearly the dynamic is not that people are going outside the city and consuming outside Philadelphia.”

“An individual person will either choose to pay the added cost and support the revenue goals of the policy, or reduce their consumption and support the health goals of the policy,” Margulies said. “As a community, I suspect there will be a balancing of the two.”

The opposite argument is that this is a money grab and the government doesn’t always know what’s best for our health.

Dr. Margulies argues otherwise.

“We have alcohol taxes, we have cigarette taxes,” he said. “This is not the first thing to come up that way.”

“Like other things that have health consequences, there are costs associated with them which governments end up bearing through medical subsidies and otherwise … often taxes are one of the ways that the true costs of choices people are free to make get engineered into the whole system. There are health consequences that are very costly, that governments end up paying a share of.”

The doctor, however, does admit that he comes from a biased perspective — one that has seen the end result of what such choices lead to.

“As a health professional, I just want to see less heart failure, less diabetes, less consequences people are sorry they got,” Margulies said. “They definitely regret the choices they made earlier, but it’s too late and not always reversible by that time. From where I sit, I see the delayed health consequences, and the regrets from the choices people made. It gives me a different perspective on this.”

Dave Ross on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM
  • listen to dave rossTune in to KIRO Newsradio weekdays at 5am for Dave Ross on Seattle's Morning News.

Dave's Commentary

Dave Ross

balloon...
Dave Ross

Ross: Was it a Chinese spy balloon, or luxury space travel prototype?

The defense department says it has been tracking a huge Chinese balloon over Montana
15 hours ago
police...
Dave Ross

Ross: ‘Police used as substitute for properly funding social services’

The reason we keep seeing abuses like the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols in Memphis. It’s rooted in American culture.
2 days ago
millenials...
Dave Ross

Ross: More millennials need their parents help, but for how much longer

Dave was shocked to hear about the latest statistics from Money.com on the number of millennials being subsidized by their parents.
3 days ago
morning...
Dave Ross

Ross: Morning people have the ideal lifestyle, it’s just science!

When I took this morning job, there wasn’t much competition. It was basically, "we need someone who can be here at 4:45 a.m.”
4 days ago
tiktok challenge kia...
Dave Ross

Ross: Kia is getting sued for thefts, but why not TikTok?

According to Seattle City Attorney Ann Davison, Hyundai and Kia thefts are so out of control in Seattle that its a public nuisance.
5 days ago
awe...
Dave Ross

Ross: An odyssey of awe, a leaky ceiling and the power of self-confidence

Three weeks ago, Colleen and I interviewed researcher Dacher Keltner on the subject of Awe – which he defines as follows.
9 days ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
A doctor’s argument supporting soda taxes in Seattle