The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
4 Points

The government should implement a special "junk food" tax

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/12/2015 Category: Health
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,024 times Debate No: 73350
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (5)
Votes (1)




I will be arguing that a special tax, to be implemented only on foods deemed to be harmful to the health of an individual, would be beneficial for society. I accept the burden of proof in this debate. I propose that the junk food tax (JFT from this point on) will have several effects, namely giving citizens more incentive to choose healthy food more often, create more revenue for local independent farmers, decrease the amount of government spending on healthcare, and create tax money for other areas of need.

To give my opponent something to work with, I'll give a hypothetical outline for such a tax. The JFT is a sales tax which is applied to all candy, soft drinks, any food with trans fats, and any foods deemed, by the decision of the local governmental food regulatory agency, to have unhealthy amounts of added fats and sugars. Most processed food should be taxed. Exempt from the tax includes raw meat, produce, dairy products, and most bread products. All restaurant food will be subject to the tax, however the restaurant/fast food chain may appeal the tax on certain foods. I imagine most salads and other healthy dining options would be exempted with very little fuss.

Now, the obvious flaw in the JFT is that it is unfair to the poor, who depend on cheap, low quality foods to survive. To remedy this flaw, part of the JFT revenue must be put into a program to ensure everyone can afford to eat. Be it food stamps, subsidies, school breakfast programs, or government funded shelters giving out meals, the JFT will not prevent anyone from being able to afford to put food on the table.

I have outlined the parameters of the tax, I turn it over to my opponent for his opening statements. After my rebuttal, I will go more in depth as to just how this tax will be beneficial.


Thanks pro, this should be interesting.

As stated in round 1, I'm not assuming any burden of proof in this debate. This lies squarely on the shoulders of my opponent.

How high is the tax?

Is it at the federal, state, or county level?

Is it optional?

I'll let my opponent elaborate more in the next round. I'm solely taking apart his plan since I'm not assuming any burden of proof.
Debate Round No. 1


Canuckleball forfeited this round.


I don't have much material to rebut but I'll just make my case brief.

My opponent's case:

A special "junk food tax" is meant to promote healthy eating and fund food stamp programs for the poor.

(1) a tax on any product forces higher prices on the consumer. Any increase in the price of a product leads to less people buying it. So while Pro figures that a tax will provide a good stream of revenue to other programs, it'll actually decrease the stream of revenue because less people will buy the product. The price elasticity of demand measures whether a 1% increase in price leads to a greater than 1% decrease in demand for it. If it exceeds a 1% loss in demand, total revenue will fall and they'd have been better off not increasing the price at all. Fast food consumers are extremely sensitive to increases in price. They have a dollar menu at practically every fast food establishment. Cheap food is a hallmark of the unhealthy food industry. The whole target market for this industry would be alienated with the introduction of a new tax. Total revenue would fall substantially. This would have greater effects throughout the economy as local communities start slowing down due to sluggish food industry sales.

(2) high calorie food isn't inherently harmful. Many body builders routinely eat in excess of 4,000 calories per day. The idea of a tax on all high calorie or "unhealthy" food is making a misguided assumption.

(3) people would greatly disagree on what is considered "unhealthy food."

(4) the food stamp program badly needs reform. Billions of tax dollars are wasted in fraudulent food stamp benefits.
Debate Round No. 2


Canuckleball forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by Diqiucun_Cunmin 3 years ago
Since the debate is nearly over I thought it might be OK to opine...

I appreciate your idea to make sure everyone can eat. Fiscal neutrality is always needed when it comes to regressive taxes like this. However, fat tax on food has proven to be unfeasible. Denmark was the first country to implement it as well as the first to abolish it. It failed to change any eating habits, unless heading over to Belgium to buy the taster junk food there counts as a change in eating habits.
Posted by Canuckleball 3 years ago
Apologies for forfeiting the round, I had a few exams to write. And Hunts, my aim is not to get rid of extra spending by the government, so, yes I am fine with raising taxes and giving them more money. I don't want to assume where you are from, but I am pretty happy with how my government allots my tax dollars.
Posted by Hunts 3 years ago
So to get rid of extra spending by the government, you want to increase taxes and give them more money???
Posted by Canuckleball 3 years ago
It would vary depending on the region. Similar to tobacco, there would be a base federal tax (lets say 5%) and then a regional tax determined by the local government (likely between 5 and 10%). This would put the TOTAL taxes, including sales tax, anywhere from 20-30%. Also, cities with particularly high obesity rates might want to increase the tax further, but that is a matter for city government. So, a Big Mac Meal costs ~ $7 normally. Add 13% sales tax (which it is in my region) and the cost is $7.91. Under the JFT, a Big Mac Meal would cost no more than $10. Not enough to prevent people from ever eating out, but enough to discourage the practice.
Posted by RoyalFlush100 3 years ago
What would be the percentage?
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Marauder 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Conduct: Con because he posted every round of this debate Arguments: Con because his posted the final rebuttal of this debate, and Pro in the 1 round they did post did do anything to meet a burden of proof they themselves acknowledged they had. not a single source or math equation to demonstrate that a mild increase in food bank and school breakfast programs revenue would make up for financial suffering put on the poorer families by the JFT.