Yesterday, as I was clicking through my usual routine of stories on CNN.com, I came across one of their highlighted stories in their health section, “Teens should be banned from tanning booths, doctors say.” I know this story may not seem to spark the initial relation to “human rights,” but the piece enticed me to think about some deeper controversial topics. One of the controversial topics that struck me as I examined the debate presented in the expose was the idea and use of “sin taxes.” With this thought, I couldn’t help but wonder if “sin taxes” were a violation of human rights. “Sin taxes” can be widely defined as a state tax that is placed on objects or services that can be thought of as a “vice” such as alcohol, cigarettes, and gambling.
In the article several predominant people voiced their concern and thoughts on the issue that is allowing significant amounts of American youth to be at risk for cancer. Dr. Sophie Balk, lead author of the statement written by an American Academy of Pediatrics committee said, "We are looking for legislation that prohibits kids from going to tanning salons. It's protecting our youth from something potentially harmful.” Do you think that the government has the right to intervene in an individual’s life to prevent potential health risks?
It would seem logical that if we were at a large risk for a health problem we would steer clear from the problem at hand. However, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights article twenty-four, it states, “everyone has the right to rest and leisure.” Although some of these objects and services may be leading to health problems, some people would classify these activities to be “leisure’s.” The first problem that arises from this situation is, who is to decide what constitutes as “leisure”? From the average teenage tanning bed user, these taxes would be a violation of human rights because the taxes forbid her from her right to leisure. Some of the newly examined items up for possible “sin tax” include junk food, which includes sodas and personally I have several friends who would have a hard time letting go of even a small “leisure” such as DietCoke. Junk food and soda do not seem like a human rights issue and one would never connect the two together if it were not for the “sin taxes.” So are “sin taxes” a violation to human beings right to “leisure” as stated in article twenty-four or does the government have a right to step in when people and youth are unable to steer clear of potentially dangerous objects and services?
The article can be found here