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Could the soda tax work at the state level?

So suggests today's DN editorial. The DN begins by saying that Mayor Nutter's sales tax had deep structural flaws and deserves the fate it has suffered. But one of the ostensible original goals of the thing -- to encourage healthier consumption -- is worth another look.

Obesity is a serious problem in this city and the country, especially among kids, who are big (and getting bigger) consumers of sugared drinks. In fact, according to the American Heart Association, the average American consumes 22.2 teaspoons of sugar a day, with sugar-sweetened beverages the biggest culprit.

The best way to discourage this consumption is an across-the-board sales tax that can be directed to specific products. And that will have to come from the state.

The bad news is that a tax by the state would have to be agreed on by ... the state.

We have to admit that in contemplating the idea of this state passing an enlightened measure like a directed tax on sugared beverages, we're not sure whether to laugh or cry.

After all, "enlightened" and "Harrisburg" don't belong in the same sentence. And the track record of our lawmakers on other common-sense tax ideas has been abysmal. Take gold bullion, helicopters, caskets, smokeless tobacco, and any of the myriad products for which the state has provided a tax exemption. (And don't get us started on the tax on gas extraction from the Marcellus Shale.)

Harrisburg. Inspiring people to feel pessimistic about the chances of their ideas since ... well, we're not sure when. It's been a while now.

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