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Cigarettes, junk food and booze, oh my! Is it fair for the government to make you pay higher taxes for stuff that's bad for you?
Booze, cigarettes, gambling ... maybe even porn! Our society has decided they're not bad enough to be illegal, but they are still considered somewhat "sinful" and for "adults" only. Some cities - like Richmond, CA and New York - have even considered increasing taxes on substances that are legal for all ages, like soda and junk food, to try to decrease consumption.
When the government taxes specific things considered unhealthy at a higher rate than other products, it's called a "sin tax." These taxes are meant to serve two purposes: to get people to stop or cut down on bad habits (by raising prices), and to raise money. Because let's face it, doing things that are bad for can be really tempting, and a lot of folks spend a lot of cash on them.
It brings up the question of whether the government has a right to decide what's good or bad for us and if it's okay to be financially penalized for doing things deemed unhealthy or "sinful." After responding to the Do Now, take KQED's sin tax quiz.