Contact: James Krieger, [email protected], 206.491.9597
SEATTLE – Later today, the soda industry will host a press conference expressing its concerns about the Seattle sugary drink tax. Healthy Food America, a national nonprofit based in Seattle, analyzes scientific evidence to inform food policy discussions. Dr. James Krieger, executive director of Healthy Food America, affirms that the scientific evidence shows that sugary drink taxes are working and play a valuable role in addressing critical public health issues.
“Seattle’s sugary drink tax is a giant step in the right direction for supporting the health of the people of our city,” said Krieger. “Sugary drinks account for nearly half of the added sugars in the American diet. Studies in Berkeley and Mexico have shown that a tax reduces sales of sugary drinks, an unhealthy product associated with diabetes, obesity, heart disease and tooth decay. Seven cities across the United States are now raising revenues from sugary drink taxes, revenues that are dedicated to supporting community programs that improve health, education and community services. Here in Seattle, that means support for Fresh Bucks that help low income people purchase healthy fruits and vegetables, expanded access to early learning, and programs supporting education equity.”
Studies on the impacts of a tax on sugary drinks on economic outcomes are now available from Berkeley and Mexico. The findings are helpful in addressing unsubstantiated concerns raised by the soda industry regarding the potential for job loss or higher consumer grocery costs. In Berkeley, a study covering the first year of tax implementation– which analyzed 15.5 million grocery transactions – found that there was no significant change in consumer grocery bills.[i] People simply purchased different and healthier beverages, especially water. This is good news for consumers – especially those with lower incomes – as well as business owners concerned about how a tax on sugary drinks might impact their store revenues. Additional data from the City of Berkeley show that food sector jobs have increased by 7% and food sector revenue has increased by 15% since the tax was implemented.[ii] Evaluation of the tax in Mexico likewise found no reductions in employment due to the tax.[iii]
[iii] Carlos M. Guerrero-López, Mariana Molina, M. Arantxa Colchero , Employment changes associated with the introduction of taxes on sugar- sweetened beverages and nonessential energy-dense food in Mexico, Preventive Medicine (2017), doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2017.09.001.