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Calls to tax junk food gain ground

August 24, 2009 | 10:31 am

Junkfood "Sin taxes" on cigarettes have turned out to be the most effective weapon in the campaign to reduce smoking.

Why not try it on Flamin' Hot Cheetos, vanilla Coke and Twinkies?

It's an idea that is gaining some traction. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll last month found that 55% of respondents favored a tax on unhealthful snack foods, up from 52% in April. Support for a soda tax rose to 53% from 46%. And a report this summer from the Urban Institute said such taxes are needed to ensure that rising obesity rates don't cause the average American life expectancy to fall for the first time in history.

"We are killing 100,000 people per year, so something needs to get done," said University of Virginia pediatric cardiologist Arthur Garson, one of the study's authors.

Like it or not, this debate is just getting warmed up. Read more by Times staff writer Karen Kaplan:

Photo: Rick Meyer / Los Angeles Times

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