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Dr. Edwards' Blog

A Tax On Sugary Drinks Could Leave Some Voters Sour - 11/7/16

As Americans prepare to go to the polls to elect a new president tomorrow, voters in four cities also will decide whether they're willing to pay a new tax on soda and other sugary drinks. 

Two years ago, Berkeley, California became the first U.S. city to tax sales of sugary drinks, including soda.  Tomorrow voters in three other California cities, along with Boulder, Colorado will consider a soda tax.  Voters in San Francisco, Oakland and Albany will decide on a one-cent per ounce tax.  Boulder voters will consider a tax of two-cents per ounce.  On January 1, Philadelphia will become the second major U.S. city to tax sugary drinks after its city council approved the 1.5 cent tax per ounce this past June. 

While this number of cities still is relatively few, they're getting a lot of attention -- much of it coming from the execs at Coca-Cola and PepsiCo.  They're concerned that it's only a matter of time before more municipalities follow suit and their already dwindling sales will drop off even more.

Another entity taking note is the World Health Organization.  At its meeting last month in Geneva, the WHO issued a report that said, "Putting a tax on sugary drinks can lower consumption and reduce obesity, type 2 diabetes and tooth decay.” And it noted that increasing the retail prices of those drinks by as much as 20% in most cases would result in proportional reductions in consumption of soda and other sugary drinks.  But the American Beverage Association maintains that soda consumption is now at a 30-year low, yet obesity has climbed.  Association representatives say West Virginia, Arkansas and Tennessee all have imposed some sort of "soda tax," yet people living in those states are among the most obese in the nation. 

Health care advocates have proposed a "sugar tax" for Missouri, but that issue never made it to the voters.  Illinois does have a Fountain Soft Drink Tax that applies to businesses in the city of Chicago that purchase soft drink syrup.  That tax adds up to 9% of the price of the syrup for fountain drinks.  Chicago businesses also charge a 3% tax on the price of sugary canned soda. 

The voters in California and Colorado will have their say in tomorrow's General Election.  We'll let you know what they decide.




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