CANNABIS CULTURE – Marijuana activist turned BC NDP Leadership candidate Dana Larsen pledged today to add a stiff tax and visual warning labels to sugar-sweetened beverages if he becomes Premier of British Columbia.
“BC is in the midst of an obesity epidemic,” Larsen said in a press release. “And a major contributor to obesity is overconsumption of sugar sweetened beverages (SSBs).”
Examples of SSBs include soft drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks, and fruit “punches” and “cocktails”.
Obesity-related illnesses cost British Columbians over $450 million every year, and include cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. About 60% of adults and 29% of youth in BC are overweight or obese. Studies show that up to 20% of adult obesity is the direct result of SSB consumption.
“A Health Protection Tax on sugar sweetened beverages has been recommended by many health bodies, including BC’s Provincial Health Services Authority, Canada’s Childhood Obesity Foundation, and the US Institute of Medicine,” said Larsen. “A tax on SSBs has also been recommended by a major study in the New England Journal of Medicine. I believe that such a tax is a good first step, but much more should be done.”
Larsen has outlined a seven-point plan to reduce the consumption of sugar sweetened beverages and improve public health:
1) Add a 25% tax to all sugar sweetened beverages.
2) Use some of this tax revenue to launch an ad campaign to educate British Columbians about the health risks of SSBs. Put the rest into subsidizing the price of healthier food choices such as fruits and vegetables.
3) Mandate visual warning labels to SSBs which clearly illustrate the health consequences of consuming these beverages. (Examples included in Backgrounder)
4) Forbid using the term “juice” for beverages containing added sugar or sweetener.
5) Ban the sale of soft drinks and SSBs in all publicly funded spaces (BC Ferries, Hospitals, Schools, Skytrain stations, etc).
6) Ensure plentiful access to free, sanitary water fountains in all public places.
7) Look at the potential benefits of similar warning labels for other harmful junk food products.
“British Columbians shouldn’t be subsidizing the hidden costs of sugar sweetened beverages,” Larsen said. “As Premier I would ensure that consumers are made aware of the serious health consequences of these drinks on themselves and their children.”
Larsen has also promised, if elected, to end the war on marijuana in British Columbia. Since announcing his candidacy in late December, he has received endorsements from marijuana icon Tommy Chong and pot-puffing pro wrestler Rob Van Dam.