Taxes on common grocery store items are unpopular with the vast majority of Americans. Take Philly – nearly 60 percent of Philadelphians were against the grocery tax a week before the tax was passed by city council members looking to bulk-up their budget. Americans know that taxes singling out one item in the grocery cart are bad public policy.They are regressive
Taxes on common grocery store items raise grocery bills for families, especially those who can least-afford the extra cost. In Mexico, where a one-peso-per-liter tax on sugar-sweetened beverages was implemented in 2014, 63.7% of the revenue raised came from lower-income families.They hurt local business
Small businesses that rely in-part on beverage sales, like your local corner store or grocery store, operate on thin margins. They cannot afford the loss of sales that would result from a discriminatory tax. As they lose customers, they could be forced to lay off employees. Ultimately, a community may lose small businesses due to the tax.They don’t work
For all the damage these taxes wreak on family budgets and small businesses, they don’t do anything to improve public health. Arkansas and West Virginia, places with longstanding beverage taxes, consistently rank as two of the most obese states in the nation. Additionally, federal data shows that there is no connection between soda consumption and rising rates of obesity or obesity-related diseases like diabetes. The obesity rate in America went up steadily (24 percent) from 2000-2014, while at the same time calories in the American diet from soda went down 39 percent.
The most effective way to encourage changes in behavior is education on leading a balanced lifestyle. For that reason, America’s beverage companies have committed to the single-largest effort by an industry to combat obesity, the Balance Calories Initiative. We’ve set an aggressive goal to reduce beverage calories in the American diet by 20 percent by 2025.
Short-sighted taxes divert us from real solutions to complex health challenges. Policies focused on education and collaboration are the better way forward.