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Will any state impose a state-wide soda tax by 2025?
For decades, a brutal war has been raging in the world of nutrition science.
In the 1960s and 1970s, believers that dietary fat was the enemy--whose ranks included University of Minnesota's Ancel Keys and Harvard's Fred Stare--sparred aggressively with those like John Yudkin in England and Dr. Alfred Pennington (and his disciples, like Dr. Robert Atkins), who thought sugar was the far greater dietary evil.
The anti-fat crowd won that political battle and got enshrined the idea the "low fat is healthy" in monuments like the first U.S. Dietary Guidelines.
Nearly 40 years since those guidelines radically shifted how Americans eat, the pendulum seems to be swinging the other way. Dietary fat's witnessing something of a renaissance. While dietary sugar is once again being seen as a malign force.
To that end, policymakers and politicians are beginning to take action to restrict sugar or at least make it less palatable to consumers.
In the UK, a recently passed sugar tax has big implications: "From now on, drinks with a sugar content of more than 5g per 100ml will be taxed 18p per litre and 24p for drinks with 8g or more."
In Mexico, one of the most obese nations in the world, activists managed to pass a soda tax a few years ago.
And in the U.S., cities like Berkeley have already passed similar measures. The Washington Post shares some key details:
Berkeley is the first city to impose a tax and the first U.S. experiment with a tax that’s probably high enough to put a dent in consumers’ soda habits. Depending on the product, a penny-per-ounce tax can be heavy; when Coke goes on sale at my supermarket, I can buy 24 cans — 288 ounces — for about $4. A $2.88 tax would mean a 72 percent price increase. For higher-priced energy and fruit drinks, the percentage increase would be smaller. According to Lisa Powell, a professor of health policy and administration at the University of Illinois at Chicago, a penny-per-ounce tax would be about equal to a 17 percent price increase overall. She says that would result in about a 20 percent consumption decline.
And then there's this amazing research:
Almost immediately after the “soda tax” went into place, Philadelphians were 40 percent less likely to drink soda every day, a new Drexel University study found
Whether or not you approve of their nutritional philosophy or tactics, the anti-sugar forces are clearly on the move, and it seems likely that more sugar taxes are in the offing.
But will we see a whole state (e.g. California) pass into law a tax on soda – with the explicit, written intent to disincentivize soda consumption – by Jan 1, 2025?
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