USA – A new study has found that US sugary drink purchases declined by 33 percent following implementation of a Sugar-Sweetened Beverage (SSB) tax in five cities aimed at improving public health through reduced intake of sugar.

Published in JAMA Health Forum, the study found that retail prices of sugary beverages rose by 33 percent in the two years following the implementation of a local excise tax on these drinks in Philadelphia, Oakland, Seattle, San Francisco, and Boulder.   

“During this same period, purchases of these beverages declined by 33 percent—and consumers did not appear to cross state lines to purchase non-taxed sugary drinks,” added the study. 

“In other words, for every 1% increase in price, we find that purchases fall by about 1%,” said Kaplan, an economics professor at the U.S. Naval Academy and the study’s lead author. 

The study is among the first to examine the outcomes of a sugar-sweetened beverage tax in multiple cities—as opposed to most previous studies that have focused only on a single city or state, gaining valuable insight into the broader impact of this tax.   

While the U.S. saw a handful of major cities pass these taxes starting about a decade ago, the soda industry poured millions of dollars adjusting to these measures. 

According to the American Beverage Association, the industry’s strategy of offering consumers more choices with less sugar is working.

The group, which represents Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Keurig Dr Pepper, among others, said nearly 60% of all beverages sold today have zero sugar and the calories that people get from beverages have decreased to their lowest level in decades. 

“The calories that people get from beverages has decreased to its lowest level in decades,” the ABA said.  

However, the industry group highlighted that sugary drink taxes are unproductive and hurt consumers. 

Organizations such as the American Heart Association have said the taxes generate ‘substantial health gains’ as well as lower health costs in the U.S. The Organization has called on other countries to tax sugary drinks to improve public health and to ‘encourage companies to reformulate their products to reduce sugar content.’ 

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