Policy Profile: Mexico Sugary Drink Tax

Highlights

  • The Mexico sugary drink tax is reducing consumption and benefitting the most vulnerable populations, which pay percentage of their income for their healthcare.
  • Proponents built an effective three-pronged strategy, using:
    • researchers to provide scientific information;
    • advocacy organizations to generate public debate and develop and spread messages; and
    • lobbying organizations to identify and engage legislators at the right time.
  • Advocates turned to alternative media outlets and social media when Mexico’s major TV networks and outdoor advertising chains refused to run ads about soda, children, and diabetes. They got 250,000 hits on YouTube, produced videos and a film on the links between soda consumption and diabetes, and placed ads in cinemas, subway stations, buses, and newspapers.
  • Opponents lost despite their powerful alliance which included the National Association of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages and Carbonated Water Producers, the Mexican Council of the Industry of Consumer Products, sugar cane producers, and beverage bottlers, among others. They lobbied in Congress, took out full-page ads in national dailies, and created a “front group” called Centro para la Libertad del Consumo (The Center for Consumer Freedom).
  • Despite opponents’ predictions, there was no reduction in the number of employees either in food- and beverage-related industry or in retail businesses after the taxes were introduced.
  • Seven of every 10 Mexicans supported a tax if the revenue was to be used for obesity prevention or drinking fountains.

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