Using taxes to control the consumption of harmful products, including sugar-sweetened soda, is a matter of intense debate (see, e.g., http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/26/well/eat/as-soda-taxes-gain-wider-acceptance-your-bottle-may-be-next.html) A PHS 795 student points to a post on Kaiser Health News and questions the evidence on the effectiveness of soda taxes:
Last week, the soda-tax was brought up in our Epidemiology class. This Kaiser article discusses the passing of soda-taxes in many cities in the US in the November election. Based on our discussions on utility and marginal cost in class, I find it interesting that many cities are expecting to use a small increase in cost per soda to change the behavior of people in hopes of starting to solve the obesity epidemic and dental decay. Although there might be a causal relationship between sugary beverages and these poor health outcomes, there are many other contributing factors to these health problems. Further, the article doesn’t discuss whether implementing the soda-tax will actually decrease consumption. Instead the article focuses on the amount of tax revenue the soda-tax will bring in for the cities with the soda-tax. How high of an additional cost are people willing to pay before the cost forces a change in behavior? What other systemic issues are at play here that go beyond the cost of soda? The article only begins to touch on the other causes such as education, lack of access to alternative beverages, preference etc.
|Leading the Way? Northern California Cities To Embark On Soda Tax Spending
Health advocates are expecting millions in new tax money for health education programs aimed at preventing obesity, diabetes and tooth decay. Other cities around the country are mulling similar mea…