Diet Beverages: To tax or not?

Summary: Sugary drink taxes were conceived of as a strategy to prevent chronic health conditions by reducing consumption of sugar. Recently, however, some jurisdictions have included artificially sweetened, or “diet”, beverages. There is strong scientific evidence associating sugary drinks with higher rates of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, liver disease and dental disease. The evidence of harm from diet drinks is less certain.

Therefore, we recommend not including diet drinks in beverage taxes. This brief describes the rationale for this conclusion and touches on additional legal, revenue and messaging considerations.

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