Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has proposed a steep excise tax on junk food in an effort to curb Mexico’s obesity problem—and raise nearly $20 billion in tax revenue. The proposal would create a Mexican “nanny state” with government elites acting as diet dictators taking away consumers’ rights over their own nutrition choices.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently deployed a similar “sin tax” on soda, limiting a New Yorker’s soda intake to 16 ounces per purchase.
It is not by happenstance that Peña Nieto developed these junk food taxes a few short months after the Big Apple mayor. Bloomberg’s charitable foundation is funding the ad campaign in support of the Mexican tax increase.
As deplorable as the Bloomberg tax is, Peña Nieto’s proposal is even worse. Due to the lack of clean drinking water in Mexico, many people there choose to drink soda and bottled waters because of limited options. Mexicans are among the world’s top consumers of bottled water.
The taxes—a steep excise tax of 5 percent on junk food and 1 peso (8 U.S. cents) per liter of soda—would impact lower-income and middle-income Mexicans the most.
Since coming into office last December, Peña Nieto has done some good things for Mexico, such as pushing through desperately needed education reforms and making promises of economic liberalization. But these junk food taxes are a step in the wrong direction.
Mary Moody is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please click here.