Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The breast of intentions

Another controversy with strong implications for economic freedom: the breast milk advertising controversy. (See this news item.) The Philippine government wants to fully implement the National Milk Code (full text

The Code is well-intentioned. Yes, breast milk is really best for babies. As with tobacco products, I agree that mandatory labeling can help balance the subtle cues inherent in product advertising.

But extremists advocate an outright advertising ban. That is going too far.

I have a better approach: tax it. The analogy with tobacco (and alcohol) is very precise. And don't call it "sin" tax or some such pejorative term: call it a "health tax". Set it at an ad valorem rate say equal to or even double the VAT (now at 12%). Watch the money roll in and the breastfeeding rates go up! Earmark the money for maternal and child health services of the LGUs (Local Government Units). LGUs would be happy. Maybe they'd even pressure the Congress to approve of it.

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