Specifically, a tax on beverages with added sweeteners is "one means by which consumer education campaigns and other obesity-related programs could be financed," according to the AMA resolution.
Although a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages alone is "unlikely to significantly impact the prevalence of obesity," taxation may be one way that a local, state, or federal government could finance efforts to improve health, the policy continued.
The "soda tax" issue is a timely one, considering that New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg recently announced plans to limit the size of sodas and other sugary drinks sold at city restaurants, movie theaters, and stadiums.
This week, the mayor of Cambridge, Mass. asked city health officials for input on doing the same in her town.
The soda tax issue has come up at previous AMA meetings, and certain groups within the association have called outright for a soda tax, but the full AMA House of Delegates has never adopted such a policy. The AMA, does, however, have policies supporting taxes on alcohol and tobacco products.
In a separate resolution, the AMA delegates took aim at Hollywood, urging that no tax incentives be given for any film that depicts tobacco use, unless the use is by "historical persons" or if the film portrays the health consequences of tobacco use.
The AMA is already on record against smoking in movies. The AMA is part of movement called "Smoke Free in Movies" that is aimed at eliminating the influence of smoking in films on youth smoking behavior. This new AMA resolution is the first to urge that state and federal tax subsidies not be available for most films in which the characters are shown smoking.
The House of Delegates also passed a resolution that calls for the study of artificial lighting on human health, focusing on how artificial lighting, especially at nighttime, can disrupt circadian rhythms and contribute to health problems, including cancer and chronic disease. The resolution also recognizes that exposure to excessive "light at night" can lead to sleep problems, and the group recommends using dim red lighting in the bedroom at night.
Other public health resolutions adopted by the AMA delegates at their annual session include calls for:
- Bottled water to clearly state the source of the water and its fluoride levels, and urging the FDA to require annual water quality reports from bottled water manufacturers be available to the public
- Legislation that would require tobacco companies to clearly label the nicotine content of their products.
- Supporting health agencies that want to require school-based instruction on nutrition and prevention of obesity in public schools
- Social networking platforms to adopt Terms of Service that prohibit "electronic aggression," including bullying