Let’s Tax Sugar-Sweetened Beverages! …Not So Fast, Chicago.

Over the past decade, there’s been a lot of interest in adding a ‘sin tax’ to discourage consumption of less nutritious foods. The primary target – sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs).

One of the public health justifications for this tax comes from Mexico, which showed a national reduction in SSB consumption after a tax was implemented. If there’s a country in which this tax is expected to have an impact, it’s Mexico — they consume more SSB (per capita) than any other country. This evidence informed subsequent SSB tax initiatives in a number of communities, including San Francisco and Berkeley.

For politicians, a SSB tax can have an important economic impact whereby revenue collected through a new tax stream can be used to fund a range of programs and initiatives. However, few things are as unpopular (politically) as a new tax, both for the public and the industries that are impacted by it. For a recent story about how Chicago’s SSB tax was rescinded, and the details behind its rise and fall, check out this article from the Washington Post.



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