Doctors Urge for Change in Behavior with 'Sin' Taxes

Mayo Clinic doctors say that positive behavioral effects would develop from a limit on sugary drinks

Mayo Clinic doctors show their support of "sin" tax in journal article.

Bloomberg may not be alone in his crusade against sugary drinks.

In an article published in the June issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings journal, physicians Michael Joyner, M.D. and David Warner, M.D. presented opinions about raising "sin" taxes on alcoholic beverages and imposing them on sugary drinks, according to News Medical.

According to the article, higher taxes would lead to a general improvement of public health by changing the behaviors of consumers. The article argues that the behavioral changes associated with the "sin" taxes would benefit the poor in particular by changing buying habits, allowing the reallocation of money and improved overall health.

The tax money could be used to raise substantial revenue and prevent medical overuse and chronic diseases, says Joyner. The article shows that today’s alcohol tax of 10 percent (as a percentage of the total cost of beverages) is much lower than it was in 1980. If the tax was raised to 30 percent of the pretax value on the beverage, federal revenues would increase by $25 billion per year. These new resources could go toward subsidized care for the uninsured, resolving some of the pressures associated with Medicare and Medicaid, medical research, and more.


After New York City’s controversial attempts for a soda-ban and the rejection of a soda tax last November in El Monte, Calif., it may be difficult to convince taxpayers to pass "sin" taxes.