You may be wondering why I keep posting about campaigns against sugar sweetened beverages. If you missed the Liquid Lies campaign, or if you want to learn more details about a policy that could have a HUGE effect on obesity, this Q and A session is for you!
Many states are now considering a sugar sweetened beverage tax to promote the health of those who live there- here are the details.
So what is the sugar sweetened beverage tax?
Essentially, it is a tax on beverages that include added sugars (this means that 100% juices and diet sodas are not included). Most states already have some form of small taxation on sugar sweetened beverages, but not enough to make a difference in consumption.
The higher tax can take on many forms. Advocates believe that the most effective form of taxation would be a statewide tax on the producers, wholesalers or distributers of sugar sweetened beverages of at least one cent per ounce of added sugar or high fructose corn syrup, but policies that are most likely to get passed now are citywide sales taxes.
How does the consumption of sugary drinks effect health?
The number of obese adults in the United States has doubled since 1980. At the rate of current trends, up to up to 75% of all U.S. adults will be overweight or obese by 2015. Sugary drinks contribute to the problem. About one fifth of the weight gain in the United States since 1980 can be contributed to sugar sweetened beverages alone.
We are increasing our soda consumption and we are increasing our weight. If you don’t believe me, just watch the great video we made at the last Catalyst Summit here.
Why tax sugar sweetened beverages?
Sugar sweetened beverages are clearly linked to the obesity crisis. Clearly, policy needs to be addressing rising obesity rates because obesity is dangerous to one’s quality of life, and raises the cost of health care greatly. Annual medical spending is 42% greater for obese individuals than for individuals with a healthy weight. About 10% of medical spending in the US is related to weight issues, and about half of this is covered by the government in public medical programs.
Taxation reduces consumption, as seen by tobacco taxes, and consuming less sugary drinks would lower the obesity rate in the United States. In addition, the revenue from these taxes can go to other programs fighting obesity such as education campaigns and health services, which would further reduce the obesity rate and contribute to public health.
Why is a tax on producers more effective than a sales tax?
A tax on producers generally gets reflected in prices at the grocery store. A sales tax only shows up at the end of your receipt, meaning that consumers only see that sugary sweetened beverages are costing them more after they have already decided to make a purchase. Higher prices are most effective deterrents when they are most visible.
What stands in the way of passing a tax on sugary drinks?
The beverage industry funds groups of “concerned citizens” in any city or state attempting to pass a sugar sweetened beverage tax. These coalitions then advertise and lobby against the tax, reducing both public and governmental support. In the face of this challenge, organizations supporting the tax must get the word out on how the tax would contribute to health.
What do you think of a sugar sweetened beverage tax? Let me know in the comments.
Quotation of the Week- “Sugar, rum, and tobacco are commodities which are nowhere necessaries of life, which are become objects of almost universal consumption, and which are therefore extremely proper subjects of taxation.”
-Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, 1776
Love and Smiles,
P.S. If you want more info, or to double check I'm getting my info from reliable sources, check out William Mitchell College of Law's Public Health Center's info on the sugar sweetened beverage tax here.