Texas Legislator Wants To Tax Unhealthy Food And Drink

Over the past few years, some states have administered taxes on sodas, junk food, and other unhealthy snacks as a means of reducing their rates of consumption. Now, a lawmaker in Texas is forming a collective effort among like-minded state congressional peers to prevent people from buying unhealthy items with food stamps.

Food stamps, also known as Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is a federal program through which people of qualifying income levels are able to receive federal funding to buy food.

Briscoe Cain formally proposed legislation regarding the restriction of what people on food stamps can buy in the state of Texas two months ago, though it was just recently processed.

The idea behind effectively forcing people to choose between eating unhealthy foods and drinks is that the state-wide rates of diabetes, heart disease, and other terminal illnesses and health conditions that are closely tied to eating poorly will fall.

According to the American Diabetes Association, people who suffer from diabetes – on average – pump out more than two times the dollar value of medical expenses every year than their healthier counterparts.

Also known as HB 4364, people receiving benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program would also be unable to purchase drinks with more than 65 milligrams’ worth of caffeine per eight ounces of fluid. In other words, this comes out to roughly nine milligrams of caffeine per fluid ounce.

Candies, cookies, and snack chips made of potato and corn were all proposed as “junk foods” under the legislation, penalizing people who buy them by slapping on hefty taxes.

Fortunately for recipients of SNAP benefits, food stamps in Texas will still be able to be used to pay for vegetable juice and fruit juice that doesn’t have added sugars or carbonation. The bill made clear that coffee would, in fact, be open for purchase with Food Stamps, though shoppers would have to brew their own pots of java instead of purchasing the popular drink in liquid form.

In the state of Texas alone, more than three million people receive food stamp benefits each month. This data comes from the United States Dietary Association, or the USDA.

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), some 190,000 people are newly diagnosed with diabetes every year in the state of Texas. As of the beginning of 2019, roughly three million Texans have diabetes.