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AAP & AHA Recommending tax on sodas and sugary drinks

zeejane03zeejane03 Posts: 993Member Member Posts: 993Member Member
I have mixed feelings on this-

https://www.foxbusiness.com/healthcare/key-medical-groups-push-for-tax-on-soda-sugary-drinks-for-first-time
https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2019/03/21/peds.2019-0282

The recommendations:
Local, state, and/or national policies to reduce added sugars consumption should include policies that raise the price of sugary drinks, such as an excise tax. Such taxes should be accompanied by an education campaign on the risks of sugary drinks and on the rationale and benefits of the tax and should be supported by stakeholders. Tax revenues should be allocated, at least in part, to reducing health and socioeconomic disparities. Metrics should be established to evaluate the impact of such a tax.

The federal and state governments should support efforts to decrease sugary drink marketing to children and adolescents.

Federal nutrition assistance programs should ensure access to healthful foods and beverages and discourage consumption of sugary drinks.

Children, adolescents, and their families should have ready access to credible nutrition information, including on the nutrition facts panel, restaurant menus, and advertisements.

Policies that make healthful beverages the default choice should be widely adopted and followed.

Hospitals should serve as a model and implement policies to limit or disincentivize the purchase of sugary drinks.
edited March 26
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Replies

  • lemurcat2lemurcat2 Posts: 1,925Member Member Posts: 1,925Member Member
    Our soda tax failed, but only because it was unpopular and badly implemented and there were some ridiculous political dynamics involved (I just listened to a Chicago Reader podcast, which I mostly listen to to annoy myself, and they asserted that it "really hurt people" in poorer areas, which is absurd. Sure, it's regressive, but it's also 100% voluntary. Reader seemed to think it was terrible to implement a soda tax rather than raising property taxes still more, sigh, but I digress.)

    Anyway, my general view is that taxes that are voluntary and on products where we'd like to discourage excess use of somewhat aren't a bad way of raising revenue (people are deciding they are willing to pay the extra, and I'd see this as a combination of a voluntary way of collecting some revenue (if people don't reduce consumption of soda) or reduction in soda consumption by the biggest consumers (which I'd expect to be a result) to be potentially positive things. Not because soda is uniquely bad -- I occasionally consume diet soda, which would have been included, and had no issue with the tax -- but because the sugary soda does have some correlations with T2D/obesity increases, especially with younger people, and has no nutrient value. Back when I was growing up soda was an occasional treat, and I think that's not so often the case with a lot of teens and even younger, which I find disturbing.

    Here it was unquestionably a money-making effort with "oh, and it will have positive health benefits, maybe" as just some added argument.

    Of course, in the US, unlike other countries, we are talking about very localized taxes, so some could choose to evade the tax by buying in a different county or the like. IMO, the cost of doing that would be a crazy hassle and more (gas), but some people who buy more soda than me or want to object to the principle of the thing likely would. But some people buy soda at 7-11 despite inflated prices, so I don't know how it would work overall either in raising money or reducing consumption.

    Dead issue here at present, though.
  • NorthCascadesNorthCascades Posts: 8,187Member Member Posts: 8,187Member Member
    ccrdragon wrote: »
    Has been tried and has failed every place that it has been tried.

    It's succeeding in Hungary. Racing interest food has given producers an incentive to make healthier food, and people are making healthier food choices.
  • PhirrgusPhirrgus Posts: 1,130Member Member Posts: 1,130Member Member
    kimny72 wrote: »
    Phirrgus wrote: »
    I would be genuinely concerned about what would be taxed next, should this succeed. I'm all for things like calories listed on restaurant menus (of the owners own volition) but sugary drink penalties in the form of our tax $$?

    Next up is eggs because a half baked study says they're bad for us. Then beef. then...

    YES I am cynical and jaded lol.

    I would rather not see this type of tax.

    Agreed. As we currently know all too well, governments are not the best arbiters of scientific cause and effect. If you think the public already distrusts scientific dietary research due to the clickbait way the media publicizes it, imagine how much worse it would be if taxation policies followed that narrative. And of course the old tax on the thing that isn't bad anymore wouldn't be removed, they'd just keep taxing new things as one biased source after another gained traction.

    I suspect that liquid calories, often in the form of soda, are the highly effective low hanging fruit if an obese person is looking for easy ways to drastically cut their calorie intake. I think encouraging people to switch to diet soda, unsweetened tea, and more water is a super great idea. I just don't think taxes will actually do that :smile:

    I completely agree. Motivation to make the decision and adhering to it will do that, not taxes.

    On the first paragraph, I imagine it would be convoluted and confusing at absolute best. Again, I'd rather not. :)
  • lemurcat2lemurcat2 Posts: 1,925Member Member Posts: 1,925Member Member
    kimny72 wrote: »
    To me, the poverty issue goes to effectiveness. Unless the tax is substantial, the majority of consumers will pay a little more for soda and maybe drink slightly less to spread out the extra cost. It's only people who have literally zero room in their budget who will change their behavior much at all.

    I'm not sure -- cigarette taxes and alcohol taxes both seem to have had some effect, and not limited to those with zero room in their budget. How expensive something is usually affects the demand.

    My concern about soda is that it has a curve much like alcohol -- many people don't drink any, lots of people drink only a little, but big consumers drink a HUGE amount. This actually distorts the stats about how much sugar Americans (and probably Brits and others) consume in general.

    I think if the policy caused people who drink a whole lot to cut down, that would be a positive. (This is actually something I've noticed with people who smoke despite the taxes -- some have cut down on how much they smoke because the cost is so high. And these are people with disposible income, they just have preferences about how to spend it. And yes, anecdotes aren't evidence, this is just influencing my overall take.)
    Also to effectiveness, the big companies that sell soda don't just sell soda, they sell all sorts of consumer products. So they can just decrease the price of soda to partially offset the tax, and then spread the cost over their entire product line, increasing prices for every item just a few cents that hardly anyone would notice. Only small, local producers would bear a financial burden.

    I'm not convinced it's that easy to do this. Alcohol manufacturers make a bunch of other products, and yet there does still seem to be some effect of the taxes (surprised me, but from what I've read of the studies I think this is true). With our brief experiment, it was more like a sales tax where it was added to the list price, so the question is whether the companies would do better cutting the cost of soda, increasing the cost of other products, and customers still seeing the big tax bite at the cash register. I think the tax would still be a deterrent for psychological reasons.

    People are odd, though -- when we had the tax people were showing how expensive their 20 oz bottle from 7-11 was, as if 7-11 wasn't already way more expensive than getting a 12-pack from the grocery store. If they were buying serving size bottles (even huge ones) at 7-11, they were already choosing to spend more for their soda similar to what the tax added.

    I'm not a big proponent of the tax, to be clear. My main reaction is "who cares," and I think the other things mentioned are probably more interesting, but unfortunately I was listening to that podcast that discussed it, so am all into talking about this now, heh!
  • lemurcat2lemurcat2 Posts: 1,925Member Member Posts: 1,925Member Member
    So on to the other things!

    "The federal and state governments should support efforts to decrease sugary drink marketing to children and adolescents." This makes sense to me.

    "Federal nutrition assistance programs should ensure access to healthful foods and beverages and discourage consumption of sugary drinks." I'd need to know more about what this means in reality.

    "Children, adolescents, and their families should have ready access to credible nutrition information, including on the nutrition facts panel, restaurant menus, and advertisements." I'd want to understand how this is different from the current situation. I agree with posting calories (and would like posting other label type information) on labels (of course) and at chain restaurants. Don't think it is realistic for non chains, and would not support that. Not sure what they want ads to include.

    "Policies that make healthful beverages the default choice should be widely adopted and followed." I suppose, but not sure what this means and I think single-minded focus on "beverages" is a little off. What kind of situation is this even referring to? School lunches (if so, sure)? I can't think of anywhere that a soda is the default beverage choice -- at restaurants you can always get water (and it will typically be offered free). I just would have to understand more as to what they are even referring to.

    "Hospitals should serve as a model and implement policies to limit or disincentivize the purchase of sugary drinks." Sure, works for me.

  • zeejane03zeejane03 Posts: 993Member Member Posts: 993Member Member
    lemurcat2 wrote: »
    So on to the other things!

    "The federal and state governments should support efforts to decrease sugary drink marketing to children and adolescents." This makes sense to me.

    "Federal nutrition assistance programs should ensure access to healthful foods and beverages and discourage consumption of sugary drinks." I'd need to know more about what this means in reality.

    "Children, adolescents, and their families should have ready access to credible nutrition information, including on the nutrition facts panel, restaurant menus, and advertisements." I'd want to understand how this is different from the current situation. I agree with posting calories (and would like posting other label type information) on labels (of course) and at chain restaurants. Don't think it is realistic for non chains, and would not support that. Not sure what they want ads to include.

    "Policies that make healthful beverages the default choice should be widely adopted and followed." I suppose, but not sure what this means and I think single-minded focus on "beverages" is a little off. What kind of situation is this even referring to? School lunches (if so, sure)? I can't think of anywhere that a soda is the default beverage choice -- at restaurants you can always get water (and it will typically be offered free). I just would have to understand more as to what they are even referring to.

    "Hospitals should serve as a model and implement policies to limit or disincentivize the purchase of sugary drinks." Sure, works for me.

    I was trying to work through what the other recommendations were too. My kids aren't at a brick n' mortar public school anymore but when they were sugary sodas/beverages were not offered as a hot lunch option? I know the HS had vending machines but we were just there a few weeks ago for an event and it only had diet soda options or bottled water. So I think schools are already addressing the issue?

    We also had a stay at a children's hospital a couple years ago and soda was not offered off of the hospital menu (orange and apple juice were though). They did have a parents room set up with free coffees, tea and soda, but these weren't advertised as something for the kids, (though I suppose parents could be swiping them and sneaking them to their kids).

    I'm neutral on marketing intervention because it's a non-issue for us (only tv is Netflix-no commercials, my kids are not on any social media platforms etc). We're pretty removed from marketing impact, except for things like signage at the grocery store and such. For others this may be a bigger deal though.
    edited March 26
  • kimny72kimny72 Posts: 11,642Member Member Posts: 11,642Member Member
    lemurcat2 wrote: »
    kimny72 wrote: »
    To me, the poverty issue goes to effectiveness. Unless the tax is substantial, the majority of consumers will pay a little more for soda and maybe drink slightly less to spread out the extra cost. It's only people who have literally zero room in their budget who will change their behavior much at all.

    I'm not sure -- cigarette taxes and alcohol taxes both seem to have had some effect, and not limited to those with zero room in their budget. How expensive something is usually affects the demand.

    My concern about soda is that it has a curve much like alcohol -- many people don't drink any, lots of people drink only a little, but big consumers drink a HUGE amount. This actually distorts the stats about how much sugar Americans (and probably Brits and others) consume in general.

    I think if the policy caused people who drink a whole lot to cut down, that would be a positive. (This is actually something I've noticed with people who smoke despite the taxes -- some have cut down on how much they smoke because the cost is so high. And these are people with disposible income, they just have preferences about how to spend it. And yes, anecdotes aren't evidence, this is just influencing my overall take.)
    Also to effectiveness, the big companies that sell soda don't just sell soda, they sell all sorts of consumer products. So they can just decrease the price of soda to partially offset the tax, and then spread the cost over their entire product line, increasing prices for every item just a few cents that hardly anyone would notice. Only small, local producers would bear a financial burden.

    I'm not convinced it's that easy to do this. Alcohol manufacturers make a bunch of other products, and yet there does still seem to be some effect of the taxes (surprised me, but from what I've read of the studies I think this is true). With our brief experiment, it was more like a sales tax where it was added to the list price, so the question is whether the companies would do better cutting the cost of soda, increasing the cost of other products, and customers still seeing the big tax bite at the cash register. I think the tax would still be a deterrent for psychological reasons.

    People are odd, though -- when we had the tax people were showing how expensive their 20 oz bottle from 7-11 was, as if 7-11 wasn't already way more expensive than getting a 12-pack from the grocery store. If they were buying serving size bottles (even huge ones) at 7-11, they were already choosing to spend more for their soda similar to what the tax added.

    I'm not a big proponent of the tax, to be clear. My main reaction is "who cares," and I think the other things mentioned are probably more interesting, but unfortunately I was listening to that podcast that discussed it, so am all into talking about this now, heh!

    Well, just to debate :wink: , the proposed soda taxes I've seen weren't dramatic, though I might just have missed the details of a more prohibitive tax somewhere. At this point, the cost of a pack of cigs is possibly as much taxes as it is product price. I know many smokers who were priced out of the habit, but we're talking about their weekly cost going up $5, $10, $15 in rapid succession. If they had gone from $5 to $5.50 per week, I think they'd still be smoking. I'm honestly not sure about alcohol pricing at all. I think soda would need to be substantially more expensive to affect a decent number of people.

    ITA that the statistics about how much soda is consumed is skewed by the folks who drink a ton of it. One would think they would be most likely to be affected by a tax, but you would think they would also already be the ones who have purposefully decided to avoid thinking about their weight and how that 2 liter a day habit was affecting them, would this mean they would also be most likely to find ways to afford an increased tax?

    As I said, I'm not at all well versed on the pricing and taxes on alcohol, so I wonder how much of the cost of say a bottle of wine is tax. I agree that a substantial tax is not easily passed off to a company's other products. But companies like Coca Cola and Pepsi are ginormous enterprises with insane profits and strong lobbies. I have little doubt they would find a way around it, but I am super cynical.

    Just to add, changing consumers' buying habits can have unexpected effects. PepsiCo is a huge employer in Virginia (and I believe a lot of that is soft drinks here), and if soda sales were to drop significantly it could easily affect employment. I suppose for companies that produce sodas, moving people to diet drinks that theoretically aren't taxed extra would be the best case scenario. I switched to diet some time ago (without someone forcing me), so I doubt I would be affected much by the policy one way or the other, depending on what weird guidelines were used.
    edited March 26
  • lemurcat2lemurcat2 Posts: 1,925Member Member Posts: 1,925Member Member
    CSARdiver wrote: »
    lemurcat2 wrote: »
    kimny72 wrote: »
    To me, the poverty issue goes to effectiveness. Unless the tax is substantial, the majority of consumers will pay a little more for soda and maybe drink slightly less to spread out the extra cost. It's only people who have literally zero room in their budget who will change their behavior much at all.

    I'm not sure -- cigarette taxes and alcohol taxes both seem to have had some effect, and not limited to those with zero room in their budget. How expensive something is usually affects the demand.

    My concern about soda is that it has a curve much like alcohol -- many people don't drink any, lots of people drink only a little, but big consumers drink a HUGE amount. This actually distorts the stats about how much sugar Americans (and probably Brits and others) consume in general.

    I think if the policy caused people who drink a whole lot to cut down, that would be a positive. (This is actually something I've noticed with people who smoke despite the taxes -- some have cut down on how much they smoke because the cost is so high. And these are people with disposible income, they just have preferences about how to spend it. And yes, anecdotes aren't evidence, this is just influencing my overall take.)
    Also to effectiveness, the big companies that sell soda don't just sell soda, they sell all sorts of consumer products. So they can just decrease the price of soda to partially offset the tax, and then spread the cost over their entire product line, increasing prices for every item just a few cents that hardly anyone would notice. Only small, local producers would bear a financial burden.

    I'm not convinced it's that easy to do this. Alcohol manufacturers make a bunch of other products, and yet there does still seem to be some effect of the taxes (surprised me, but from what I've read of the studies I think this is true). With our brief experiment, it was more like a sales tax where it was added to the list price, so the question is whether the companies would do better cutting the cost of soda, increasing the cost of other products, and customers still seeing the big tax bite at the cash register. I think the tax would still be a deterrent for psychological reasons.

    People are odd, though -- when we had the tax people were showing how expensive their 20 oz bottle from 7-11 was, as if 7-11 wasn't already way more expensive than getting a 12-pack from the grocery store. If they were buying serving size bottles (even huge ones) at 7-11, they were already choosing to spend more for their soda similar to what the tax added.

    I'm not a big proponent of the tax, to be clear. My main reaction is "who cares," and I think the other things mentioned are probably more interesting, but unfortunately I was listening to that podcast that discussed it, so am all into talking about this now, heh!

    Heavy emphasis on "seems too".

    If you review the timeframe and time of implementation it shows that societal pressure had the direct impact on usage long before taxation passed.

    Similar to weight loss it isn't easy, but it is simple. You focus on what you have control over.

    I'm finding the discrepancies between this thread and another one in the general forum where someone is attempting to influence their spouse. Why is it convention wisdom to leave your spouse alone, but yet some believe they can influence an entire population?

    "Seems to" because I haven't studied the issue in depth (only read some studies and thought about it casually since we had a tax here) and there are always other factors. If I actually cared about the tax one way or the other I'd study it (and other analogous taxes) more.

    The proposal in the OP did specifically demand that a tax be combined with clear ways to measure impact, and I think that makes sense -- generally I think we learn only if specific places try different things and we can study results.

    As for the rest, I think you are conflating two separate things. One is at the personal level, how do I lose weight (or otherwise make self-improvements). There, of course you focus on the things you are in control of, and no one is saying it's not possible for people to decide to control their weight.

    The other is the societal problem: people on average are fatter today than they used to be for various reasons (less activity required in daily life, high cal food being easily available, cheap, and reasonably tasty with little work involved, environment (food is often always around), cultural reasons). If we recognize this is bad for many reasons, then what can we, as a society, do to address this problem.

    Maybe the answer is "nothing," but I am not yet convinced of that.
    edited March 26
  • lemurcat2lemurcat2 Posts: 1,925Member Member Posts: 1,925Member Member
    kimny72 wrote: »
    lemurcat2 wrote: »
    kimny72 wrote: »
    To me, the poverty issue goes to effectiveness. Unless the tax is substantial, the majority of consumers will pay a little more for soda and maybe drink slightly less to spread out the extra cost. It's only people who have literally zero room in their budget who will change their behavior much at all.

    I'm not sure -- cigarette taxes and alcohol taxes both seem to have had some effect, and not limited to those with zero room in their budget. How expensive something is usually affects the demand.

    My concern about soda is that it has a curve much like alcohol -- many people don't drink any, lots of people drink only a little, but big consumers drink a HUGE amount. This actually distorts the stats about how much sugar Americans (and probably Brits and others) consume in general.

    I think if the policy caused people who drink a whole lot to cut down, that would be a positive. (This is actually something I've noticed with people who smoke despite the taxes -- some have cut down on how much they smoke because the cost is so high. And these are people with disposible income, they just have preferences about how to spend it. And yes, anecdotes aren't evidence, this is just influencing my overall take.)
    Also to effectiveness, the big companies that sell soda don't just sell soda, they sell all sorts of consumer products. So they can just decrease the price of soda to partially offset the tax, and then spread the cost over their entire product line, increasing prices for every item just a few cents that hardly anyone would notice. Only small, local producers would bear a financial burden.

    I'm not convinced it's that easy to do this. Alcohol manufacturers make a bunch of other products, and yet there does still seem to be some effect of the taxes (surprised me, but from what I've read of the studies I think this is true). With our brief experiment, it was more like a sales tax where it was added to the list price, so the question is whether the companies would do better cutting the cost of soda, increasing the cost of other products, and customers still seeing the big tax bite at the cash register. I think the tax would still be a deterrent for psychological reasons.

    People are odd, though -- when we had the tax people were showing how expensive their 20 oz bottle from 7-11 was, as if 7-11 wasn't already way more expensive than getting a 12-pack from the grocery store. If they were buying serving size bottles (even huge ones) at 7-11, they were already choosing to spend more for their soda similar to what the tax added.

    I'm not a big proponent of the tax, to be clear. My main reaction is "who cares," and I think the other things mentioned are probably more interesting, but unfortunately I was listening to that podcast that discussed it, so am all into talking about this now, heh!

    Well, just to debate :wink: , the proposed soda taxes I've seen weren't dramatic, though I might just have missed the details of a more prohibitive tax somewhere. At this point, the cost of a pack of cigs is possibly as much taxes as it is product price. I know many smokers who were priced out of the habit, but we're talking about their weekly cost going up $5, $10, $15 in rapid succession. If they had gone from $5 to $5.50 per week, I think they'd still be smoking. I'm honestly not sure about alcohol pricing at all. I think soda would need to be substantially more expensive to affect a decent number of people.

    ITA that the statistics about how much soda is consumed is skewed by the folks who drink a ton of it. One would think they would be most likely to be affected by a tax, but you would think they would also already be the ones who have purposefully decided to avoid thinking about their weight and how that 2 liter a day habit was affecting them, would this mean they would also be most likely to find ways to afford an increased tax?

    As I said, I'm not at all well versed on the pricing and taxes on alcohol, so I wonder how much of the cost of say a bottle of wine is tax. I agree that a substantial tax is not easily passed off to a company's other products. But companies like Coca Cola and Pepsi are ginormous enterprises with insane profits and strong lobbies. I have little doubt they would find a way around it, but I am super cynical.

    Just to add, changing consumers' buying habits can have unexpected effects. PepsiCo is a huge employer in Virginia (and I believe a lot of that is soft drinks here), and if soda sales were to drop significantly it could easily affect employment. I suppose for companies that produce sodas, moving people to diet drinks that theoretically aren't taxed extra would be the best case scenario. I switched to diet some time ago (without someone forcing me), so I doubt I would be affected much by the policy one way or the other, depending on what weird guidelines were used.

    Not going to answer in depth since I don't actually have a position, but here are a couple of pieces on the alcohol taxes that might be interesting (references to studies within):

    https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/2018/12/13/18130843/alcohol-taxes

    https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2016/03/the-wages-of-sin-taxes/474327/

  • kimny72kimny72 Posts: 11,642Member Member Posts: 11,642Member Member
  • clicketykeysclicketykeys Posts: 3,003Member Member Posts: 3,003Member Member
    kimny72 wrote: »
    At this point, the cost of a pack of cigs is possibly as much taxes as it is product price. I know many smokers who were priced out of the habit, but we're talking about their weekly cost going up $5, $10, $15 in rapid succession. If they had gone from $5 to $5.50 per week, I think they'd still be smoking.

    My father has told me a few times that he quit smoking because it got to be too expensive. However, that was apparently when it went up to fifty cents a pack ;D
  • lokihenlokihen Posts: 194Member Member Posts: 194Member Member
    I wonder, since sales tax isn't applied to ebt/food stamp purchases, would they start down the slippery slope of restricting which drinks can be bought that way?
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