Soda Tax Media Coverage Can Decrease Consumption Even More Than Tax Itself

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Professor Sofia B. VillasBoas Ph.D and
Scott Kaplan, Ph.D. Candidate
Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics,
University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720‐3310 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The background leading up to this study is the fact that  in 2014, the city of Berkeley passed the nation’s first sugar-sweetened beverage tax, also called soda tax, through a 75% YES public vote. Using beverage sales data from U. C Berkeley campus retailers, we find that sales of soda fell relative to non-SSB beverages by 10-20% after the election outcome and before the tax was ever passed on to consumers.

We know this to be the case because the campus only passed through the higher prices to consumers in middle of 2016. This effect is also found when we look at beverage sales in retail outlets near U C Berkeley. There, quantity dropped after the Yes election outcome relative to quantity changes in counterfactual stores (in retailers near other U C campuses where the tax was not passed and with comparable patterns of sales to those in the city of Berkeley at baseline).

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