Many public health activists and lawmakers often tout that taxes on common grocery items like beverages will be the silver bullet that will solve the complex issue of obesity. But in an article for The Federalist, Michael T. Hamilton, the Heartland Institute’s research fellow for health care policy, breaks down why these taxes will only line government coffers while doing nothing to improve people’s health.
“While taxing citizens in order to slim them down, government coffers are fattening up,” argues Hamilton. Hamilton points to Berkeley’s beverage tax as an example where the beverage tax failed on its public health promise.
Hamilton references Dr. Chuck Dinerstein, a senior medical fellow at the American Council on Science and Health, who found that the tax failed to work because it only pushed consumers to go outside of city limits to purchase beverages. In fact, sugar-sweetened beverages sales “increased by 7 percent just outside Berkeley’s city limits.”
Hamilton further notes that there was an increased consumption of untaxed beverages such as milk and dairy based drinks where the average consumer increased by 31 calories per day for untaxed beverages.
The evidence is clear – taxes may raise money for the government, but that's about it. You just can’t tax our way to better health. To learn more about the negative consequences of beverage taxes, visit The Truth About Beverage Taxes.