Soda Taxes and Other Beverage Policies
Raising the price of products that are harmful to health is a tried-and-true public health measure. The strategy is successful in limiting cigarette and alcohol use, and experts believe that it can do the same for sugary drink consumption. Imposing taxes on sugary drinks may have an impact on the amount consumed, and therefore contribute to reducing obesity. It would also provide substantial new revenue that could be used for initiatives to combat obesity, improve school lunches, subsidize fresh fruit and vegetable purchases for low-income populations, and so much more. There are many other policy options that would also help to limit the availability and marketing of sugary drinks and increase the availability of healthy beverages. Below is our list; please let us know if you have other ideas.
Establish a state, county, or city tax or fee on sweetened beverages and use the funds to support local nutrition and physical activity efforts. Read more about beverage taxes.
- In these cities and states, soda tax policies have been or are being considered: Arizona, California, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Massecheusetts, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Philadelphia, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia.
- In February, 2013, California State Senator William Monning introduced Senate Bill 622 - Sweetened Beverage Tax. At 1-cent per fluid ounce on beverages with added caloric sweeteners the tax is estimated to raise $1.7 billion for the CA's Children's Health Promotion Fund. More information on SB 622 can be found on the CCPHA Legislation Page.
- 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.
- The voters of Richmond, CA rejected two measures on the November 6, 2012 ballot. Measure N would have taxed sugary drinks a penny-per-ounce; the accompanying Measure O advised the city council to spend the funds on obesity and diabetes prevention programming.
- The voters of El Monte, CA rejected a soda tax measure on their November 6, 2012 ballot. Measure H would have taxed sugary drinks a penny-per-ounce; the accompanying Measure C advised the city council to spend the funds on obesity prevention programming.
- CSPI hosted a webinar that provided a retrospective view of the California proposals, described lessons learned, and offered implications for future ballot soda-tax initiatives. Expert speakers specifically addressed message framing, campaign organization, and industry tactics, and provided motivation for future soda tax proposals. Listen to the webinar recording or view webinar presentation slides.
Eliminate the provision or sale of sweetened beverages in childcare and afterschool programs.
- The following places have eliminated the provision of sugary drinks in some/all childcare facilities: California, New Mexico, and New York City
- Water: Ensure the availability of clean, free water.
- Marketing: Eliminate marketing of sweetened beverages, including sponsorships and the presence of logos.
- Sales/Purchasing: Eliminate the purchasing and/or selling of sweetened beverages in vending machines or cafeterias.
- As of January, 2013, the University of Vermont will stop the sale of bottled water, improve free tap water dispensers and require that one-third of drinks in vending machines be healthy options.
- These churches in Seattle, WA do not serve sugary drinks to children. Churches in Seattle, Washington: Mount Zion Church, Immaculate Conception Church, First African Methodist Episcopal Church.
- SSB Policies in Hospitals and Health Care Settings:
- These hospitals have banned the sale of sugar-sweetened beverages on hospital premises: Cleveland Clinic (Cleveland, OH), Carney Hospital (Boston, MA), Fairview Hospital (Great Barrington, MA), San Mateo Medical Center (San Mateo, CA), Chicago's Vanguard Health System (MacNeal, Weiss Memorial, Westlake, and West Suburban Hospitals), Baylor Hospitals (Dallas, TX), Gifford Medical Center (Randolph, VT), Dartmouth-Hitchcok Medical Center (Lebanon, NH), St. Luke's Hosptial (Duluth, MN), Indiana University Health (Goshen, IA), Lucile Packard Children's Hospital (Palo Alto, CA), Nationwide Children's Hospital (Colombus, OH), and Mercy Children’s Hospital (Kansas City, MO).
- Under the The New York City Healthy Hospital Food Initiative, 21 private and public local hospitals have implemented healthy beverage vending machine standards.
- Health Care Without Harm and the Center for Science in the Public Interest have compiled a list of resources called "Improving Beverage Choices in Health Care Facilities."
- The Public Health Law Center has released a series of resources designed to inform and support efforts to promote healthy beverage choices and reduce consumption of sugary drinks in Minnesota healthcare settings. These resources were developed in partnership with Health Care Without Harm and the Minnesota Cancer Alliance, with assistance from Jamie Harvie, of the Commons Health Hospital Challenge. You can find the resources (a guide and 7 supporting fact sheets) here: http://www.publichealthlawcenter.org/resources/healthy-healthcare
- Support Local Policies:
- The Silicon Valley Leadership Group has adopted "Principles for Support for Local Sugar Sweetened Beverages Taxes." The Silicon Valley Leadership Group represents more than 360 of Silicon Valley's most respected employers on issues, programs and campaigns that affect the economic health and quality of life in Silicon Valley, including energy, transportation, education, housing, health care, tax policies, economic vitality and the environment.
- The American Medical Association adopted a policy on June 20, 2012, that "taxes on beverages with added sweeteners are one way to finance consumer education campaigns and other obesity-related programs." Noting that "where taxes on beverages with added sweeteners are implemented, the revenue generated should primarily be used for programs to prevent or treat obesity-related conditions."
- The American Public Health Association voted on October 30, 2012 to officially endorse federal, state, and local taxes and fees on sugar-sweetened beverages. "Faced with a national obesity crisis largely driven by the consumption of sugary beverages, these taxes could serve as a means of reducing consumption of the sugar sweetened beverages that contribute 48 percent of added sugar to American diets."
Change local zoning laws to limit the number and/or density of sweetened beverage retailers near schools and playgrounds.
Eliminate marketing of sweetened beverages, including sponsorships of, and logos in, schools and at city or county sponsored programs or events.
Prohibit the use of city, county, or state funds to purchase sweetened beverages.
Eliminate or establish nutrition standards limiting the sale of sugary drinksin vending machines, on city/county owned property, and/or at city/county sponsored events, meetings, or programs. Browse slides from ChangeLab Solution's webinar on plugging into healthy procurement and vending. Or read more about healthy vending policies on Kick the Can. The following are some examples of cities and counties with healthy vending policies in place:
- Boston, MA; Philadelphia, PA; New York, NY; San Antonio, TX
- These California cities: Arcata, Baldwin Park, Brentwood, Chula Vista, El Monte, Huntington Park, La Mesa, La Puente, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Palm Desert, Pasadena, San Fernando, Redding, Sacramento, Santa Ana, San Jose, San Leandro, South El Monte, Visalia
- These California counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, Monterey County, San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Diego, San Francisco.
Establish minimum nutrition standards for children's meals that include toy-giveaways and other incentives.
Ban and/or limit the sale of sugary drinkson school property.
- These states have banned sugary drinks on school property: Alabama, Connecticut, Massachusetts
- These states have placed restricts on the sale of sugary drinks on school property: AZ, AR, CA, CO, HI, IL, IN, IA, KY, LA, MD, MS, NV, NJ, NM, NC, OH, OR, RI, SC, TN, TX, WA, WV
Strengthen city and county signage ordinances to limit the amount and type of signage on stores and buildings. (An ordinance of this type must apply to all products and all signs because legally it cannot target a single product type.)
Eliminate the sale of sweetened beverages in vending machines on city or county owned property. Browse slides from ChangeLab Solution's webinar on plugging into healthy procurement and vending.
Ensure the availability of free, good tasting water in public schools, on all property owned or leased by a city, county, or state, and at all city or county sponsored events. More.
Eliminate the sale and marketing of sweetened beverages at zoos, museums, parks and other places frequented by children.
Advanced policy options to regulate sugar-sweetened beverages to support public health (PDF).
Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Taxes and Sugar Intake: Policy Statements, Endorsements, and Recommendations. Compiled by the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity (PDF).