Opportunities Ahead And Lessons Learned from Santa Fe

Disappointed but undaunted. It would be easy to languish in the loss of a hard-fought effort to pass a sugary drink tax in Santa Fe. But this loss will become a distant memory as more and more cities and states continue to pass this policy. The negative impacts of added sugars on health and wellness are not going away.  We are steadily reminded of the urgency to address the real public health impacts of sugary drinks. For example, a study released in April found that:

"Sugary drinks accounted for 7.4 percent of all cardiometabolic deaths, and higher percentages of coronary heart disease and diabetes deaths (10.8 and 14.8 percent, respectively.)… Sugary drinks accounted for more deaths than any other dietary factor among adults less than 44 years old. Sugary drinks also accounted for almost twice as many deaths among blacks (12.6 percent, the leading factor) compared to whites (6.4 percent)."

Over the last few weeks we have been consulting with allies on the ground in Santa Fe who provided firsthand accounts and insights about the factors that were likely influential to the outcome of the vote. Motivated by the reality of the public health impacts of sugary drinks and supported by science, we will use what we learn from Santa Fe to combat industry attempts to sell unhealthy sugary drinks at the expense of public health in pursuit of the almighty dollar.

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Santa Fe Sugary Drink Tax Loss Ends a Streak of Seven Soda Tax Wins

Santa Fe voters have rejected a 2 cent-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks that would have raised nearly $8 million for expanded pre-K.

The tax was proposed and spearheaded by Santa Fe’s Mayor Javier Gonzales, placed onto the ballot by the City Council and supported by thousands of voters who wanted the revenue to be used to expand educational opportunities for the city’s low-income three and four year olds.

The loss offers up a rare win for the soda industry, which, in the last year, has seen sugary drink taxes pass in San Francisco, Oakland and Albany, CA; Boulder, CO; Cook County, IL; and, Philadelphia, PA. The first sugary drink tax in the nation passed in Berkeley, CA in 2014.

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Illinois sugary drink tax would save millions of lives and dollars, Harvard model projects

A tax on sugary drinks in Illinois would reduce consumption of health-harming beverages enough to reduce incidence of diabetes, prevent about 116,000 of cases of obesity and avert millions in healthcare costs over 10 years, researchers at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health have concluded.

Using a peer-reviewed model known as CHOICES, the researchers project in a new report that the tax of one cent per ounce would persuade many regular consumers of sugary drinks to shift to water or other, less harmful drinks. As a result:

  • The incidence of diabetes would drop by an estimated 9 percent when the tax reaches full effect;
  • 116,000 fewer people would be burdened with obesity at the end of 2025 than without the tax;
  • Healthcare costs would drop by $733 million thanks to reduced chronic disease associated with excess sugar and weight gain.
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New profiles share key lessons from Bay Area soda tax campaigns

In November, three more Bay Area cities joined Berkeley in adopting sugary drink taxes of one cent per ounce. How did they do it?


Three new profiles tell a little of the story in facts, figures and lessons learned. For example, did you know that more than $34.5 million was spent on the San Francisco campaign -- $12 million in support and more than $22.5 million in opposition? What worked? Early outreach to business was critical, building on the groundwork laid in an unsuccessful 2014 bid and high-profile leadership by women of color are some of the key take-aways.

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Berkeley sugary drink tax is working, new study shows

What if there were a public policy that rewarded industry for selling healthier products and led consumers to buy fewer health-harming ones, while at the same time raising revenue to improve people’s lives – all without damage to the economy? 

Turns out there is one. Meet the Berkeley sugary drink tax.

A new study shows that after one year of taxing sugary drinks at a penny an ounce, Berkeley saw sales of those beverages drop nearly 10 percent as water sales went up and store revenue remained constant. According to research co-led by researchers at The University of North Carolina’s Gillings School of Global Public Health and the Public Health Institute of Oakland, CA:

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Philly soda tax gets its day in court as judges consider beverage industry suit

Four months into collecting its tax on sweetened beverages, the city of Philadelphia was in court Wednesday battling the beverage industry over whether it has the right to do so. Meanwhile, thousands of kids await pre-K slots and aging rec centers continue to crumble as the city holds off investing $300 million leveraged by the tax until the judges rule. 

The hearing in Pittsburgh before the Commonwealth Court, a statewide appellate court responsible for cases involving local governments, lasted about an hour. (Even as the hearing was under way, Philly residents were having a field day razzing Pepsi for it’s ill-conceived Kendall Jenner ad and cheap-shot tactics against their soda tax.)

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Is soda consumption headed up or down? Our new research brief tracks the trends

Healthy Food America today released Trends in Sugary Drinks Consumption in the US, 2005-2012, a research brief analyzing the four most recent waves of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), from 2005-2012. NHANES is the best available comprehensive source of national data on beverage consumption; 2012 is the most recent full data set available publicly, though CDC in January issued a partial

Reports of Big Soda’s demise have been greatly exaggerated, based on Healthy Food America’s new research brief. Recent media stories have focused on soda consumption falling and bottle water rising to become the most popular beverage in America. While that may be cause for some celebration, focusing on the decline of soda oversimplifies how the sugary drink landscape has changed.  There are many more types of sugary drink products now on the market– and we still consume historically high quantities. 

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Great new tool helps cities and states estimate revenue from sugary drink taxes

For the first time, localities of all sizes will be able to estimate potential revenue from a sugary drinks tax under a range of scenarios, thanks to a newly upgraded online calculator.

The update to the Revenue Calculator for Sugary Drink Taxes was a collaborative effort by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at UConn, where it is housed, and Healthy Food America. To create revenue models for all 50 states and 40 cities, researchers used the most recent 2015 proprietary industry data on regional beverage sales. Cities range in size from huge -- like Los Angeles -- to smaller cities, such as Sunnyvale, CA, so that policymakers in those cities, as well as in cities of similar size, can ballpark what a "soda" tax would bring in.

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Webinar: Insights on soda tax victories from their political strategists

Are you working to pass a tax on sugary drinks in your community, considering whether to pursue one, or counseling others on how to get one adopted? Do you want to learn what it took to field and win tax campaigns? This one-hour webinar, recorded March 23, 2017, is for you.

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Is 100% juice as bad as soda? Read our journal article to find out

This is a summary of the findings of an HFA-commissioned survey of research into the health effects of 100% fruit juice, appearing in the April 2017 issue of Pediatriacs, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Read the article online here.

The question of whether 100% fruit juice causes poor health outcomes in children, such as weight gain, has been a subject of controversy.

On one hand, 100% fruit juice contains vitamins and nutrients that many children lack, is often cheaper than whole fruit, and may help kids with limited access to healthy food meet their daily fruit requirements. On the other, leading nutrition experts have expressed concern that fruit juice contains amounts of sugar equal to or greater than those of sugary drinks like regular soda. 

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