Throughout the United States, a few local municipalities have tried their hand at imposing a beverage tax. Typically, people in communities both large and small stand up and reject excise taxes, like beverage taxes, because they dramatically increase prices on everyday items, disproportionately impact those who can least afford it and harm small businesses and employees who rely on beverage sales for a living.
Where beverage taxes have been tried, they have failed to make meaningful, lasting change. A 2019 study found that beverage sales in Philadelphia decreased by 46%, resulting in job losses and even the closure of one grocery store, but the health impact was not significant as residents crossed city lines to avoid the tax. In Mexico, despite the imposition of a beverage tax, obesity rates have risen. Research from professors at Duke University published in the Harvard Business Review found that a beverage tax in Berkeley, California had a minimal impact on consumption and its effects "cannot be sure they even exist." And, a study by John Cawley et al that focused on the total impact on beverage taxes in Philadelphia, San Francisco, Oakland and Seattle, found that combined the tax only led to a 5-calorie drop in calories per person per day.
Sally C. Pipes, president, CEO, and Thomas W. Smith fellow in healthcare policy at the Pacific Research Institute, recently penned an opinion editorial discussing the impacts of beverage taxes stating:
"While soda taxes fail to improve public health, they do serious economic damage to local businesses. Convenience stores, for instance, are heavily dependent on revenue from soft drink sales. If those sales decline, retail employees could find themselves out of work."
America's leading beverage companies believe there is a better way to tackle public health challenges than a tax that raises prices on everyday grocery items and harms working families, neighborhood businesses and employees. That's why, we've taken voluntary, proactive steps to reduce the sugar and calories Americans get from beverages. We have introduced more options with zero sugar or less sugar than ever before. We are expanding our offering of smaller portion sizes like mini-cans and we voluntarily removed full-calorie sodas from schools. We put clear calorie labels on the front of every bottle and can we sell and we've added calorie awareness messages on millions of vending machines and fountains. Today, more than 50% of beverages purchased today are zero sugar and the number of beverage calories to schools has been reduced by 90 percent.
To learn more about how America's beverage companies are supporting Americans' efforts to balance what they eat, drink and do, visit www.balanceus.org