Sugary drink taxes: Responding to industry arguments

About this brief: Every community that has sought to adopt a tax on sugary drinks has encountered more or less the same opposing arguments from the beverage industry. This document compiles those most frequently heard and offers the responses that advocates have found most effective. The grid summarizes the most common arguments and topline messages in response. We also provide more in-depth discussion of two key issues where policy makers or other key constituencies may require more background and detail.

One important caveat: In general, our best response is to pivot back as quickly as possible to our positive message about the sugary drink tax: It will raise money for things we need and want while saving lives, or variations of that theme. Engaging on every opposition message risks debating on opponents’ turf and taking us off our positive message. The responses supplied here are primarily to arm you with discussion points to help potential allies feel comfortable knowing what industry arguments they will encounter, and to know that there is a rich trove of strong responses. Feel free to contact us for help in determining when and how to respond to opposition.

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