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Home / Business / US Soda Taxes Work, Study Suggestion – But Perhaps Not as Good as Hope: Salted: NPR

US Soda Taxes Work, Study Suggestion – But Perhaps Not as Good as Hope: Salted: NPR



Several US cities have adopted tax on sweet drinks to raise money and fight obesity. But the results are mixed on how well they slow down consumption.

Daniel Acker / Getty Images


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Daniel Acker / Getty Images

Several US cities have adopted tax on sweet drinks to raise money and fight obesity. But the results are mixed on how well they slow down consumption.

Daniel Acker / Getty Images

This week, the Connecticut governor proposed a state tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. Several cities have already adopted such noise charges to raise money and combat obesity. And there is new evidence to suggest that these treasures work – even though it is not sometimes as good as hoped.

Kris Madsen, a senior lecturer of public health at the University of California, Berkeley, is one of the researchers who has studied soft drinks, partly because she is convinced that sugary drinks are a threat to society, a direct cause of obesity.

"It's a pretty high bar for public health to say that something is causing a major epidemic," she says. "We can do it for sugar-sweetened beverages."

Berkeley was the first US city to tax these drinks, making them more expensive, and Madsen leads a group of scientists trying to see how the treasure works.

"We've been going to the same neighborhoods every year for the past five years, and we've asked people the same questions," she says. Researchers interview people on the street, primarily in low-income parts.

They started doing this before the soda harvest came into force four years ago and they have continued every year since.

"We saw a 52 percent decrease in consumption over the first three years" since the tax came into force, she says. "This has a big impact."

Madsen's study was published online this week by the American Journal of Public Health.

Of course, memories are not entirely reliable; It is also possible that people in Berkeley may underestimate their consumption because they will not admit that they still drink a lot of soda.

Meanwhile, other researchers are trying to quantify the effect of soda tax by looking at sales data from retail businesses, including grocery stores and convenience stores.

Anna Tuchman, at Northwestern University, is part of a group studying Philadelphia's soft tax. Philadelphia tax is different from that in Berkeley. It's bigger, and it also covers both drinks sweetened with sugar and drinks that contain low calorie calories. This is due, among other things, to the fact that the goal of the tax is largely to raise more money for schools and playgrounds.

Tuchman says sales of the tires in Philadelphia have fallen sharply, by 46 percent since the tax came into force.

But it's a catch. "We find a huge increase in sales of soda and other treasured products in stores that are zero to four miles outside the city," she says.

Basically, it seems that many people in Philadelphia are driving to stores just outside town to buy their beverages. This is especially true for sweetened drinks (and less artificial sweets). When you take that into account, sales in and around the city fell by about 20 percent, not 46 percent. And the sales of sugar-sweet drinks fell even less.

This gets in the way of both the city's goals for sodas. "People are able to maintain their sugar and calorie intake, and the city is about to increase tax revenue," Tuchman says.

Tuchman and her colleagues are still reviewing their paper; It has not yet been formally reviewed by other researchers. Right now, however, it shows some of the difficulties that cities face with sodas.

There are also political obstacles. The pot industry has turned back and claimed that sodas are unfair to consumers and will not really make people healthier. In fact, the newly strong California legislature is reluctantly relinquishing a moratorium on additional soda tax on cities in that state.

However, San Francisco and Oakland, California already have sodas in place, and Seattle implemented one at the beginning of 2018.

Soda Tax Officers meanwhile mean that there is an easy way to keep people from avoiding tax by going outside City: Just pass a treasure that covers an entire state – or maybe even a whole country.

In fact, Mexico introduces a tax on sugary beverages in 2014. This tax is less than soda ash in the United States, and its impact on consumption has also been less. According to one study, the consumption of sugary drinks fell on average by around 8 percent as a result of the tax.


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