Seattle Becomes the Eighth U.S. Locale to Pass a Sugary Drink Tax

The Seattle City Council approved a 1.75 cent-per-ounce sugary drink tax on Monday June 5th, becoming the eighth locale in the U.S. to adopt such a measure. The tax, which was proposed by Mayor Ed Murray in February, passed by a vote of 7-1.

Seattle joins Berkeley, Albany, Oakland and San Francisco, CA; Boulder, CO; Philadelphia, PA and Cook County, IL (Chicago) in levying a tax on sugary drinks to address critical community needs while discouraging overconsumption of unhealthy drinks. Sugary beverages like soft drinks, sports and energy drinks, fruit drinks, and sweetened coffees and teas, have been linked to diabetes, heart disease, obesity and other chronic conditions.

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Early Evidence Says That Sugary Drink Taxes Are Working

Healthy Food America today released Are Sugary Drink Taxes Working? Early Evidence Says Yes, a research brief analyzing studies of sugary drink taxes designed to reduce consumption. Read the brief here.

After years of projections about whether sugary drink taxes would impact consumption, early evidence is in. These taxes have significantly lowered consumption in Mexico and Berkeley (CA) according to studies conducted in each region.

For this research brief, we reviewed and analyzed evidence gathered from these locales and others, and assessed whether the beverage industry’s counterarguments to sugary drink taxes ring true.

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Webinar: Implementing Sugary Drink Taxes: Outreach, Collection, and Fighting Industry Litigation

If your municipality is implementing a sugary drink tax or considering a tax policy, this webinar offers advice about what to prepare for after that win. Panelists from Berkeley and Philadelphia’s tax and revenue, public health, and legal departments shared what they learned while blazing the trail.  (Recorded May 15, 2017.)

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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?

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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
update.  

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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