7 thoughts on “Thirsty for money”

  1. Posted 30/01/2013 at 13:38 | Permalink

    Of course, it hardly bears remarking that there is another solution – abolish the NHS and replace it with private systems that might incentivise better lifestyles eg. lose weight and your premium falls. Instead, we have a system where being unhealthy is incentivised via ‘free healthcare’ and then punished via sin taxes. As you point out, such products have quite inelastic demand, so all this really does is tax the poorest and make food a greater part of their spending. It is amazing (or not) how such groups invariably lobby for solutions which expand the growth of the state, ignoring that the problem is caused by the state in the first place!

  2. Posted 30/01/2013 at 16:08 | Permalink

    “…£6 billion – the putative cost of ‘diet-related diseases’ to the NHS…”

    So because of that, they want to tax soft drinks.

    One wonders what the annual cost to the NHS is for Sport & Recreation related injuries. Considerable, I would imagine. So what course of action should they take with sports injuries? Tax them? Refuse to treat them on the grounds that they are essentially self-inflicted injuries (as they would like to do to smokers)? After all, no-one needs to do sport; they know the risks, it’s a lifestyle choice. So why should we have to pay for their irresponsible actions?

    Where do you stop with this idiocy?

  3. Posted 31/01/2013 at 09:38 | Permalink

    Just had a look at Sustain’s website concerning children’s food, and it seems that they are tackling it from completely the wrong angle. Their angle is all about repression – stop sweets at check-outs, stop vending machines in schools, stop this, stop that. Obesity is not going to go away by banning sweets at the check-out.

    If the people in the organisation don’t understand the complex reasons behind obesity, they are just wasting taxpayers’ money, and to ask for yet more money to ban even more stuff and restrict civil liberties even more is just scandalous.

    Sustain guys – repression doesn’t work, okay? You’re p*ssing in the wind.

  4. Posted 04/02/2013 at 16:15 | Permalink

    nisakiman makes the age old mistake of seeing only the costs immediately in front of us. Yes, I play sport. Once in my 25 years of life that has resulted in the need for hospital treatment – 1 X ray and a couple of casts. That sport is reducing my chances of chronic conditions which cost the NHS/economy/society an absolute fortune. You have to be a pretty poor economist to be so short-termist with such little regard for opportunity costs.

    I’m not against sin taxes when the alternative is income taxes. Some nudge taxes are highly effective (think bridge taxes in San Francisco and Copenhagen). That said, the argument against raising taxes to fund special interests is pretty difficult to deny.

  5. Posted 19/02/2013 at 11:49 | Permalink

    What David L said. Exactly. Its a complicated issue that demands serious thought, but it’d help enormously if we could reduce the “idiocy” on both sides. Sport participation self-evidently reduces costs to the NHS. Poor diet does not.

    I don’t fully agree with Sustain, but the idea that – on certain extreme issues – a portion of tax should be raised from the behaviour that creates the cost (rather than from wages) seems okay. A kind of polluter pays principle, where the alternative is to subsidise these costs from general taxation. It’d help everyone if we could have a sensible and informed debate – this would have been a more useful blog if it had devoted space to examining the evidence from the many countries that have tried this, rather than throwing abuse at Sustain. Unsurprisingly, they are largely state-funded you say. Indeed, but who funds IEA?

  6. Posted 19/02/2013 at 14:09 | Permalink

    @ David L and Ned H. “… just under a third (30 per cent) of the nation pick up 22 million sporting injuries per year.” “On average a person regularly participating in sport will pick up 1.65 injuries every year and will take up to five days off work or college due to incapacity and/or treatment.” http://www.personal.barclays.co.uk/BRC1/jsp/brccontrol?task=popup1group&value=11147&target=_blank&site=pfs
    “…he cost to the NHS of treating these injuries is estimated to be £590 million per annum”
    I’m not entirely convinced that the benefits outweigh the costs.

  7. Posted 19/02/2013 at 18:06 | Permalink

    Thanks @ nisakiman for the interesting links. I would still be absolutely staggered if the financial benefits from a healthier population don’t massively outweigh the costs of treating injuries. I think the whole NHS budget is around £100billion, for context. The second link you posted goes on to say “The total direct and indirect costs of physical inactivity, including earnings lost due to sick absence and premature mortality is a staggering £1.89 billion and is estimated to produce 8 million days lost from work each year.”

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