All Four Soda Tax Proposals Approved on Election Day
In Tuesday’s election, Americans in four cities – Boulder, CO, and San Francisco, Oakland, and Albany, CA – approved soda tax proposals for their cities. In addition, Chicago’s Cook County Board of Commissioners will vote on a soda tax today. These taxes will add a penny or two for each ounce of soda.
Economics professor Roland Sturm advises us: “Don’t expect small taxes to make a big splash in reducing obesity.”
The problem is that these taxes often don’t apply to all caloric drinks that people enjoy. In Philly, a soda tax goes into effect in January. If you order a Starbucks pumpkin spice latte with 50 grams of sugar, you won’t pay a penny in sugary drink tax. Taxes are for the poor suckers who drink Coke.
Others are also advising not to expect too much, too soon from these soda taxes.
Marion Nestle, author of Soda Politics, notes that soda consumption is already dropping. In communities like Berkeley, CA, she says, “Consumption rates were low to begin with, so measuring a further decline won’t be easy.”
Shu Wen Ng, a UNC public health professor and author of studies on soda taxes, says, “It will be a while before we expect to see health effects – like weight change, metabolic changes – as these changes require persistent changes over time to occur.”
Meanwhile, we will indeed collect more tax revenue in a handful of cities. Somebody has to pay for schools and public services. Don’t worry, though. An offset might be coming. Our new president promised a $1 million annual tax break for people in the top 0.01% – people making $3.7 million or more per year.
You can buy a lotta pumpkin spice latte with that.
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November 10, 2016