Democratic lawmakers are proposing a new tax on “sugary drinks” in hopes that forcing consumers to pay more will encourage them to stop consuming unhealthy beverages.

Democrat Brianne Nadeau, a member of the Washington, D.C. city council, introduced a measure this week that would place an excise tax of 1.5 cents per ounce on drinks that the city government considers “sugary.”

The legislation would also repeal an existing 8% sales tax on sugary drinks, which is 2% higher than the existing sales tax in Washington.

Democrats think the sugary drink tax would “begin rectifying longstanding health inequities made even more apparent by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“One thing that COVID-19 has made abundantly clear is that we need to get serious about addressing health inequities in the District,” Nadeau said in a press conference.

Mary Cheh, another council member who sponsored the bill, said that “This excise tax would go right on the product. Thereby making it apparent to the purchaser that it is more expensive than it was.”

She also said the sugary drink tax will combat “chronic diseases associated with the consumption of sugary drinks,” as well as childhood obesity and homelessness in Washington.

As explained in the press release:

The legislation takes important steps toward providing equitable access to nutritious food for District residents experiencing homelessness by requiring that meals served at the District’s shelters and transitional housing are consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and by applying greater oversight over food service vendors. It also establishes grants to support nutrition education, cooking lessons, and gardens at family shelters and transitional housing to create healthy environments.

Lawmakers proposed the tax on sugary drinks back in 2019, but it ultimately failed.

However, Nadeau claims, similar taxes like the ones put in place in Philadelphia and Berkeley prove that they can be successful.

But according to multiple scientific studies, even though the sales of sugary drinks decrease in cities that implement the per ounce excise tax, sales in neighboring cities increase at the same time. This suggests that residents impacted by the sugar drink tax will simply travel a little further to get a cheaper deal.

For example, in 2017, Philadelphia became the second U.S. city to implement a sugary drink tax. The medical journal JAMA found that sales of sugary drinks decreased 51% during the first year of the tax. But sales in towns and counties next to Philadelphia increased.

The National Bureau of Economic Research conducted similar research and came to the same conclusion.

The NBER also found that Philadelphia’s sugary drink tax did not have a positive impact on the overall health of adults or children.

“The tax did not have a substantial effect on the frequency of adults’ consumption of other beverages. We generally do not find detectable effects of the tax on children’s consumption of beverages,” the researchers said.

13 thoughts on “Democrats Propose “Sugary Drink Tax” to Address “Health Inequities””
  1. Oh thats gonna help…we are going to put an extra tax on sugary drinks but give more welfare out to cover the and pay cash… extra fear our stupid government at work. Just like you can’t buy alcohol with food stamps but you can get a cash advance…and pay cash…see it done everyday.

  2. Will work even worse than the one in Philadelphia since DC is smaller almost all the residents can get outside of this city in a few minutes and buy without the tax. Even the one in Philly caused residents to shop outside of that city if they were a half hour or lass away

  3. The cook county once proposed a tax on soda beverages. There was mounting opposition and the referendum was not passed. The cost of beverages will go up, as the price of gas, due to cancelation of the oil pipeline to Canada. Its hard enough economy, and the guidelines, the roll out of the vaccines, let’s not make it any harder

  4. You need to get red bill and drinks like that off the shelf they do more harm than the sugary drinks do I do not like them and the kids like them more then the sugary dinks if you want to do something take them off the shelf

  5. You need to get red bill and drinks like that off the shelf they do more harm than the sugary drinks do I do not like them and the kids like them more then the sugary dinks if you want to do something take them off the shelf

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