The Ethics of Sin Taxes

Rebecca D. Green, Kennesaw State University


The current global economic crisis is forcing governments to consider a variety of methods to generate funds for infrastructure. In the United States, smoking‐related illness and an obesity epidemic are forcing public health institutions to consider a variety of methods to influence health behaviors of entire target groups. In this paper, the author uses a public health nursing model, the Public Health Code of Ethics (Public Health Leadership Society, 2002), the American Nurses' Association (ANA) Code of Ethics (2001), and other relevant ethical theory to weigh and balance the arguments for and against the use of sin taxes. A position advocating the limited use of sin taxes is supported as a reasonable stance for the public health professional.