Public opinion polls provide important information about public support for sugary drink policies. Polls conducted around the country have shown that the majority of Americans favor a sugary drink tax. When asked if they support a tax whose revenues would be used to combat childhood obesity, the percentage of those in favor rises even higher.
A Field Poll from the fall of 2012 found that 2 in 3 California voters support taxing sugar-sweetened beverages if proceeds are tied to improving school nutrition and physical activity programs.
In Massachusetts, a 2011 poll by The Boston Foundation showed that 69% of those polled would support a tax on soda if the revenues were used to support local schools or childhood obesity prevention.
In New York, a poll conducted by Kiley and Company in January 2010 showed that 58% of New Yorkers thought the state should impose a new 18% tax on sodas and other soft drinks containing sugar, which would reduce childhood obesity. In New York City, the percentage in favor rose to 76%.
In California, a poll conducted by the Field Research Corporation in 2010 showed that 56% of voters supported a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. Sixty percent of low-income and 66% of Latino voters favored a soda tax.
In Philadelphia, a 2009 poll by the Campaign for Healthy Kids found that 55% of voters would support a two-cents-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages if the funds were used to support programs to combat childhood obesity. A 2009 poll by the Annenberg Public Policy Center offers useful data on the beliefs and behaviors that lead to overweight and obesity among children and adults. Questions were included about peoples' intentions to reduce sugary drink consumption.
For a primer on polls and how to interpret them, check out this resource from The National Council on Public Polls. Although the document is written for journalists, the information it contains is highly relevant for public health advocates, and its 20 questions can help you determine if reported polling data are reliable and valid.