Forbes, April 18, 2017
Bruce Y. Lee


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[...] In just a couple of years since the San Francisco defeat, my, have times changed. Six locations have since passed SSB taxes, including San Francisco. A study published last fall in the American Journal of Public Health showed that SSB consumption decreased by 21% and water consumption increased by more than 63% in Berkeley after the SSB tax. And now for the PLOS Medicine study, researchers from the Public Health Institute (Lynn D. Silver, Suzanne Ryan-Ibarra and Marta Induni) and the Carolina Population Center at the University of North Carolina (Shu Wen Ng, Lindsey Smith Taillie, Donna R. Miles, Jennifer M. Poti and Barry M. Popkin) found that one year after the SSB tax was introduced, SSB sales fell in Berkeley by 9.6% and rose in surrounding areas by 6.9%. Meanwhile, sales of water in Berkeley jumped by 15.6%.

Does this mean that the same effects will be seen elsewhere? Potentially. The American Beverage Association claimed in a statement that "Berkeley’s relatively small size, high median income and low baseline consumption rates make it a challenging place to determine the true impact of a beverage tax–unlike Philadelphia, where the tax has led to significant job losses and economic hardship for working families. This study does, however, confirm that sales of taxed beverages inside the city declined while sales of those same beverages outside the city increased, which is also what is happening in Philadelphia." On the other hand, with Berkeley being less than ideal for such an experiment, effects could be greater elsewhere. [...]

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