There is mounting evidence that beverage taxes cost jobs and harm local businesses but do nothing to move the needle on public health. In an opinion piece published in The Hill, American Beverage Association President and CEO Susan Neely points to new research providing further proof that beverage taxes harm communities and explains how America’s beverage companies are taking comprehensive actions to achieve our shared goal of better public health.
“According to a new study by Oxford Economics, the Philadelphia beverage tax pushed consumers to shop outside of the city and beyond the reach of the tax, hurting job creation and the local economy inside the city limits,” wrote Neely.
This Oxford Economics study, conducted in partnership with the ABA, comes as Philadelphia is marking the one year anniversary of its unpopular beverage tax. It shows a great deal of economic damage has already been done. According to Neely, “Oxford Economics found the Philadelphia beverage tax reduced local manufacturing activity, retail and wholesale margins, and trade margins. This resulted in an employment decline of almost 1,200 workers, with $80 million in lost gross domestic product and a $4.5 million loss in local tax revenue.”
Neely says in addition to causing economic harm, taxes don’t motivate consumers to curb their sugar intake. In order to make a meaningful impact, “we need a balanced approach and a better way forward.” That’s why America’s beverage companies are taking bold actions to be a part of the solution.
“You’ve likely seen smaller cans and bolder calorie labeling, as well as the expanded choices for no-calorie and low-calorie beverages at the supermarket and fountain machines,” wrote Neely. “Americans want more options, which is why competitors like the Coca Cola Company, PepsiCo, and Dr. Pepper Snapple Group are voluntarily working to help consumers cut sugar and reduce caloric intake from beverages. As a result today, 48 percent of all non-alcoholic beverages purchased have no sugar, and 60 percent of new brands and flavors hitting the market have low or no calories.”
Neely says change doesn’t happen overnight, but “innovative product and marketing efforts, combined with education and better choices, are more effective at reducing sugar consumption over the long term.”