Policy Profile: Boulder, CO Sugary Drink Tax

What worked in Boulder

Each community has unique circumstances that dictate how it will frame and design its campaign. Here are some lessons learned from Boulder:

  • Assure the leaders of communities most affected by the health impacts of sugary drinks are at the decisionmaking table from the initial phases of policy design through implementation.
  • Outreach to influential local restaurants, stores, and food/drink producers to preempt the industry’s misinformation and local coalition-building attempts. If done well, you can gain supporters or neutralize opposition.
  • Expect the beverage industry to file legal challenges or to recruit a local person to file a suit on its behalf. Don’t let this delay the campaign. Seek support from national public health legal experts and local tax campaign attorneys, and use the lawsuits as an opportunity to highlight community support for the tax.
  • Allow enough time between passage and the start of tax collection (at least 6 months). This lets the city learn from other implementing sites, and conduct outreach to distributors, restaurants, and stores so they understand the process before the tax goes into effect.


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