Should We De-Legalize Coca-Cola?

Today’s post is written for people willing to….

  • Take off their “this is what I believe to be true” caps
  • Put on their “thinking” caps

[box type=”important”]For everyone who can’t resist the urge to scream FREE MARKET!!!!, I welcome your feedback, but expect to be mocked for intellectual laziness and your inability to recognize that there is no such thing as a free market. [/box]

If you doubt this statement, I suggest you try selling crystal meth & porno in front of the nearest public school to test your belief that you live in a FREE MARKET.

[box type=”note”]When I say Coca-Cola, I also mean to include Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Dr. Pepper, etc into the conversation. All soda-style products[/box]

Anyway, enough with my ranting. Here’s what I want you to think about.

Should we de-legalize Coca-Cola?

All arguments are fair game. Medical, social, economic, theoretical, etc…


And just in case you’re interested in my position…

  • I don’t believe that we should de-legalize Coca-Cola.
  • I do believe that Coca-Cola should come with warnings similar to tobacco products
  • I do believe that Coca-Cola should not be allowed to advertise to children (12 and younger???)
  • I do believe that we should apply “sin taxes” to Coca-Cola and have 100% of that tax revenue be directed towards health promotion programs. These health promotion programs need to be 100% transparent to receive this money. Any remaining money is funneled into treating disease affected by Coca-Cola – diabetes, heart disease, etc.

My reasons for taking these positions are as follows…

  • Coca-Cola has no nutritional benefit
  • It is devoid of micro-nutrients
  • It provides empty, high glycemic carb calories
  • It is addictive (caffeine)
  • It contributes to insulin resistance
  • It contributes to type 2 diabetes
  • It contributes to metabolic syndrome
  • These medical conditions have a profound effect on the health of our society
  • These medical conditions have a profound effect on our economic productivity

In short, Coca-Cola is a danger to both our health and our wealth.

On the other side of the ledger…

  • Coca-Cola tastes good.
  • We’re all grown-ups and should be allowed to make our own decisions (good and bad) without someone else telling us what to do.

And that’s how I came to my position.

  • Keep Coca-Cola legal
  • Tax it to offset it’s negative medical/financial impact on our society
  • Restrict it’s marketing campaigns to adults

What do YOU think?


  1. We are all grown ups and can make our own choices. I personally don’t drink it, it’s a matter of choice. This wouldn’t have been up for discussion in the 1950’s and 60’s because people didn’t over consume it and now that people do it’s a problem. It’s not coke’s fault we are fat it’s our faults we are fat.

  2. I just responded on Twitter to your question about whether soda should be remain legal or not.

    Economists call stuff that when consumed/used affect things other than the consumer, an “externality”. Typical examples are gasoline and coal, as their use affects clean breathing and climate.

    In my view, a good argument can be made by calling soda an externality as well. Not only will it harm the person drinking it, if drunk daily, but given its contribution to obesity and diabetes, soda will also harm the health care system.

    If people ate no manufactured food or drink and moved their bodies as people 100 years ago did, health care costs would be a fraction of what they now are; therefore, to the extent that soda and its ilk promote chronic disease, then it has a negative effect — an externality — on society and government has a role in its use.

    I say, tax the shit out of it and use the proceeds to help support vegetable and nut farmers, rather than wheat and corn farmers. And if there’s any $$ left over, subsidize the health insurance of those who treasure their health and thereby take care of themselves.

    My 2 cents, Doug.


  3. You make a some very good points and I agree, we do not live in a free market. But we do live in a society that is highly addicted to these beverages and in places such as Canada it is added a huge burden to our already overly taxed health care system.

    I do not believe that de-legalizing these products is the answer (Love to see the underground market develop on that one!) but we do need doctors, nurses and dieticians to step-up to the plate. They need to educate themselves and then actively speak up about the use of these products and what they are doing to our health.

    Unfortunately the Coca-Cola Corp has managed to work their way into the health care field and are now offering US Registered Dieticians an accredited course entitled “Children’s Dietary Recommendations: When Urban Myths, Opinions, Parental Perceptions & Evidence Collide” This course is designed to promote Coke as a ‘wholesome’ product that can be incorporated into a healthy dietary plan.

    This course is a symptom of a very sick food system. I encourage your readers to sign the petition, Coca-Cola: Stop Promoting Coke as ‘Wholesome’

    Thank you Doug for a great website! Your blogs are very informative.

    Cheers, Julie Daniluk RHN, NNCP

  4. Drinking a coke probably has no significant externality in and of itself – only the continuous drinking of Coke has any externality, and even then, that isn’t necessarily true.

    But if we’re going to start taxing any individual behavior that has a potential externality, I’d suggest a few others:

    1) Taxing vegans/vegetarians/healthy eaters to offset the damage that their diets are having on the poor throughout the world:

    2) Taxing unhealthy eaters for the costs of medical care here. (Your argument above)

    3) Taxing people who work out and get injured for increasing the costs of medical care for their overuse injuries.

    4) Taxing people who don’t work out because sedentary people also increase the cost of medical care due to chronic illness.

    The list could go on. The fact is, just about every thing you do and everything you don’t do has some sort of negative externality. There are substantially better ways to go about seeking the policy goal that you want.

  5. I was told that Coca Cola was created by the inspiration to have an iced caffeine drink because people, at the time, were not inclined to drink their coffee iced. They wanted their coffee — HOT. So at the time, iced coffee wouldn’t sell very well. So they invented a caffeine drink that could be iced so people could have their caffeine allotment. I don’t think an American staple such as Coca Cola should be de-legalized. I think we should have better education to drink it in a non- abusive way.

  6. Hi TMM

    Thanks for taking the time to respond to my questions. Adding the links was a great help.

    I agree that the suggestion of de-legalizing/taxing/banning any food product opens up a gigantic can of worms. The reason I started with Coca Cola is because they have been in the news recently with their new commercial and their new nutritional certification program…and because they are an easy target in regards to the lack of nutrition in their product.

    Re your 4 suggestions, that article about quinoa has been a real eye-opener for vegan community…all of our action have reactions…and this one isn’t good.

    Re the overuse injuries, if we’re going to go down that road, we would have to factor in all the pros and cons of running long distances. IMHO, this is far more complicated than the cola issue. To begn with, I think it would be more prudent to start with the low hanging fruit/soft drinks

    Re taxing sedentary people, we’re already seeing this happen indirectly with insurance companies requiring it for corporate clients.

    Re your statement “There are substantially better ways to go about seeking the policy goal that you want”. I would love to hear some of those better ways

  7. I don’t think we should be able to tax them but I do think that they should have a warning label on their products; and they shouldn’t be allowed to market their product as wholesome. What a joke.

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