Thursday, July 15, 2010

Stop Tax Write-Offs for Junk Food Advertising to Kids

By Ed Bruske
aka The Slow Cook

Parents for Better D.C. School Food are firm believers that one of the quickest ways to make school food healthier is to get sugar and other junk food out of kids' diets. Now Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) is proposing to fund better nutrition and anti-obesity programs by removing the tax deduction corporations claim for the junk food advertising they aim at children.

This is no small matter. The food industry currently spends about $10 billion annually on advertising its products to kids, and we aren't talking about fruits and vegetables. A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation reported that out of 8,000 television ads that aired during children's shows, not a single one promoted fresh produce.

The Kucinich bill would direct the Treasury Department, along with Health and Human Services and the Federal Trade Commission, to develop regulations and standards for implimenting the new tax provisions.

About 50 countries, including Australia, Sweden and Great Britain, already have laws limiting advertising aimed at children.


  1. I'm usually right in line with you, Ed, but I think this is a slippery slope. if we want, as a society, to change the tax code to say that no advertising is deductible, I'm OK with that. But I don't like the idea of saying "this is OK for you, so it can be deducted, this is not, so it cannot." This is the first step in the march to a scary nanny-state.
    I mean, consumerism is also a disease affecting our children, should we also say no toy advertisements? (Which I would welome!) And some of those clothes that are sold to tweens - makes me blush - should their ads be banned? Silly Bandz are the bain of an elementary parent's existence right now. Ban the advertising! And the lyrics to songs - better ban music ads too!
    (In all of these cases, you can substitute the words "make the advertising dollars non-deductible.")
    When we change what is done in schools, we are voting with our wallets, as one should in a democratic, capitalist system. When government officials pick and choose (via tax policy) what is acceptable for us to see and hear, we look more like totalitarians than democratic people.

  2. DC School Mom, You lost me at "democratic capitalist system." There is nothing in the U.S. constitution that says anything about capitalism or free enterprise. The founding fathers said the purpose of the federal government was to "promote the common welfare." I really don't have a dog in this fight--I'm just reporting the news--but it seems to me that in a democracy, whatever the elected representatives decide to embrace as policy is fair under majority rule. As a community, we should be able to pick and choose what kind of advertising we want to be broadcast to our kids, or how we want to tax it. That's what laws and policies that "promote the common welfare" are for.