A tax on sugar-sweetened beverages

Public health would be better, and health expenditures smaller, if consumers faced a meaningful tax on “sugar-sweetened beverages.”  A new study estimates the beneficial effects in the U.S. of a penny-per-ounce tax on this type of drink:

Over a 10-year period, the tax would avert 101,000 disability-adjusted life years, gain 871,000 quality-adjusted life years, and result in $23.6 billion in healthcare cost savings.

The study summary is here and the full report is here. Such a tax would affect demand for the sugar stuffed into beverages, including that produced in Florida. Although oriented towards sugar consumers rather than producers, the proposal has to make one think of the failed 1996 ballot referendum on a Florida “penny-a-pound” sugar tax. Florida tax policy could come much closer to matching individual and public interest.


A tax on sugar-sweetened beverages — 3 Comments

  1. I react to a tax per ounce of sugar sweetened beverage much the same way as I view Florida’s drug laws. The penalty is the same whether the kilo you purchased is 100% pure or has been diluted to 1%. If the sugar is the enemy and a tax is the solution, tax the quantity of sugar in solution instead of the quantity of the solution.

    And what is sugar-sweetened? Natural fructose in fruit or vegetable juices? Or added purees? Or only added sucrose [excluding high fructose corn syrup for instance]? You might also note that artificially sweetened beverages also affect the brain paths and affect individual dietary intake.

    If taxes are the answer to the national problem of obesity and health care costs, why not address the problem more directly and tax body fat/mass itself and give people an incentive to lose or the choice to pay to over indulge?

  2. Artificial sweeteners are equally bad as are any drink out of a plastic bottle. I would love to see a tax on plastic bottles including bottled water in a single use plastic bottle.