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Got the following email from Jill Hollingsworth of the Food Marketing Institute:

Thank you for mentioning that supermarkets are ready to help vaccinate our customers. However, state health departments will decide what organizations will receive vaccine. Each state is responsible for developing their own distribution plan - already more than 90,000 sites have been identified. And today during the CDC conference call, the work of the retail industry to help distribute vaccinations was recognized.

Also, for clarification, like the common flu, H1N1 flu is a respiratory disease — not a foodborne illness. You cannot get H1N1 flu from handling or eating food. It is important for retailers and all businesses to have a plan to deal with the upcoming flu season.

More information and free downloads and brochures about H1N1 and seasonal flu are available at

Thanks. It certainly was not my intention to imply that H1N1 is a foodborne disease. I’m glad you clarified in case I left room for misunderstanding.

On the subject of proposed taxes on sugary soft drinks, one MNB user wrote:

First, I don’t drink them, ever.

But my reaction is (I know this can’t be printed): BULL****!

OUTRAGEOUS. Attempting to control behavior through taxation is downright wrong. It is simply an effort to shore up depleting coffers, and taxing people’s emotional habits is an evil way to do it.

And, drinking sugary pops is an emotional habit. If we ever really ingested food that the body needed for health, based on nutrition, and chemistry alone, we’d never drink soft drinks, eat ice cream, or other nutritionally deficient substances that are sold as “food”.

Many things on the market are devoid of nutrition. I don’t expect my outrage is going to make a dent in that…..but I make my own choices, and speak what I know is true in this arena, wherever there is an opening.

MNB user Simon Ginsberg wrote:

Do these folks really believe that 1 cent or even 5 cents is going to deter anyone from drinking soda???? Especially energy drinks at 2.00 each….it won't make a difference . Then it will be chocolates etc. What about chocolate milk loaded with HFCS? And then you can also become diabetic from drinking too much natural juices….so should that be taxed also? How about a fast food tax……? They can call it the McTax!

HIGH Tobacco taxes in the US and Canada deterred many smokers not pennies. But what also made a difference with tobacco is society acceptance and outright banning in public places and better education and less TV and film showcasing and advertising. So will Coke and Pepsi ads be banned as well?

If this is passed it will definitely draw in other groups who see this and other forms of "health tax" as a cash cow……more hidden taxes!!!

What will make a difference is getting those drinks out of all the school systems to start and getting parents to finally bring proper eating habits into the home.

Another MNB user wrote:

A penny an ounce tax on sugary soft drinks may not sound like much but if you do the math it represents $1.50 tax on a 12 pack of soda that retails anywhere from $2 to $4.

MNB user Richard Thorpe wrote:

Kevin – your statement below is totally inconsistent with you stand on cigarettes. Smokers don’t want to help themselves either until they are diagnosed with cancer. You need to be more consistent here as those supporting a sugar tax are on the same line as you are with tobacco just in a different place on the line. Maybe we could replace the income tax with “sin taxes” just like NEVADA.

I disagree. The difference is that sugary soft drinks have not been specifically engineered to addict and kill people.

Another MNB user wrote:

The other issue I see, is how much will it actually discourage people from drinking the targeted drinks? I am not sure that taxing cigarettes or alcohol curbed those consuming the targeted products from buying them. I suspect on some level they simply changed spending habits to account for the tax, leaving out something healthy for the offending product. Some of my acquaintances who smoke and drink are barely able to buy groceries but can still smoke a cigarette or have a drink. I guess it would depend on the purpose of the tax. Is it supposed to simply generate income or curb behavior?

MNB user Matt Zimmerman wrote:

Do they not realize that the soft drink makers will make more diet drinks, which will reduce the opportunity to generate an income from sugar drinks. The government will then tax all carbonated drinks and anything else. Maybe they need a lesson in basic economics.

And another MNB user wrote:

Social engineering in this country has gone too far. Self-appointed decision-makers, educated in "progressive" colleges that teach them that they have a moral duty to bend society to the social engineering vision, tell us where to live, how to live, where to work, what to eat, how to raise our children, and how high to set our thermostats.

The Age of Advice was fine so long as it stayed advice. But every preachy program of failed, so now, the social engineers – called Central Planners in Communist countries -- are converting their bright ideas into law. "Smart growth" demands that we cram together in clustered housing because social engineers don't like front lawns ("sprawl"). Planners reduce minimum parking requirements so shoppers are forced to ride bikes. Cities like Portland spend hundreds of millions on trains that nobody rides, and drive housing prices so high that whole populations move elsewhere. Social engineers have decided that parents aren't doing a good enough job keeping their kids away from fructose, so the answer is to force obedience. The obesity "epidemic" has more to do with cultural disapproval than health – the numbers thrown around are utter nonsense, simply plucked out of the air -- and the reality is that the soda tax, like the tobacco tax and all other "sin" taxes, is an effort to raise funding for wildly expensive programs by punishing those who act contrary to the dictates of social engineers. Compassionate fascism is the new American style.

I’m not sure that “facism” is a fair characterization. And your list of complaints assumes that obesity isn’t really a health and economic problem and that the environment hasn’t been abused through years of neglect. None of which I think is accurate.
KC's View: