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ROCHESTER, Minn. — Go ye and sin no more — or pay for it, when it comes to junk food, smoking and consuming alcohol. That's the message from two Mayo Clinic physicians who say raising "sin" taxes on tobacco and alcoholic beverages and imposing them on sugary drinks and fatty foods would lead many people to cut back, improving public health. The article by Michael Joyner, M.D., and David Warner, M.D., appears in the June issue of the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
MULTIMEDIA ALERT: For audio and video of Dr. Joyner talking about sin taxes, visit the Mayo Clinic News Network.
The physicians contend that much of overall health depends on behavior and is relatively independent of the health care system. Risk factors for many common and chronic diseases are directly linked to tobacco smoking, drinking alcohol, eating too much low-quality food and physical inactivity, they say.
"Sin taxes could address three of these four major behavioral determinants of overall health," says Dr. Joyner, a Mayo Clinic anesthesiologist and physiologist. "Sin taxes have also been highly effective in improving public health in the past and in the current environment could be structured to raise substantial revenue and prevent both medical overuse and chronic diseases."
Key points from the article:
"Although consideration of such policies would (and has) engendered vigorous debate, sin taxes have the potential to rapidly benefit the physical, social, and fiscal health of the nation and should be seriously considered by policymakers and our political leaders," Dr. Joyner says.
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