Friday, June 6, 2014

To Combat Soda Increase the Availability of Free Water

Another day, another article explaining why soda is killing us and making us fat. Everybody knows that slapping a tax on the bubbly stuff would be the most effective an minimally-distortive policy to reduce consumption (versus, say Bloomberg's cup size nudges), but in light of tremendous political opposition in many jurisdictions, let me suggest another approach.

Making soda more expensive will discourage soda consumption and push people to consume other substitutes. Now some of those might just be other sweetened treats, solid or otherwise, but I'd guess that a large chunk of soda consumers drink the stuff because they're thirsty. Making healthier sources of hydration comparatively cheaper by say, increasing the availability of drinking fountains in cities, would seem to be a good idea targeted at that second group of soda drinkers.

Funding certainly exists for goofy, small urban projects with unscientific and uncertain benefits. A crash program to build a ton of drinking fountains all around cities would be a really interesting experiment.

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