July 18, 2019-
Soda taxes—though they actually apply to other sugary drinks as well—have proven controversial, to say the least. There’s no national soda tax in the United States, but also nothing to stop individual localities from instituting their own. Some have been passed and then repealed, some remain on the books, and some have failed at the ballot box, but one question appears to have been answered: do they actually work?
The category of drink to which these taxes apply is usually referred to as “sugar-sweetened beverages,” or SSBs. Those include non-diet sodas as well as energy drinks, sports drinks, and some not-so-fruity fruit juices. Focusing on just the USA, many cities have imposed a tax. Philadelphia has one at three cents per ounce, and many other cities—Seattle, Portland, Boulder, San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland—have taxes ranging from one cent per ounce to two. New York City attempted to flat-out ban sodas above a certain size, though that ban was eventually struck down. Chicago, too, had a tax briefly, though it was eventually repealed.