Sugary drink sales fall 38% after Philadelphia levied soda tax: study

A sweetened beverage tax sign can be posted by sweetened beverages at a supermarket inside Port Richmond neighborhood of Philadelphia, Wednesday, July 18, 2018.

Matt Slocum | AP

Sugary drink sales dropped 38% in Philadelphia after the city started off taxing soda in addition to additional sweet beverages in 2017, according to a study published Tuesday inside Journal of the American Medical Association.

Philadelphia levied a tax of 1.5 cents per ounce on sweetened drinks beginning Jan. 1, 2017, following Berkeley, California, as the second city inside country to implement the levy.

Supporters argue soda taxes can discourage people by indulging in sugary drinks, possibly helping curb obesity, diabetes in addition to additional diet-related conditions. Critics say governments should not dictate what people drink, in addition to raising the cost in one city will simply cause people to shop elsewhere. Beverage sales inside Philadelphia’s city limits dropped by 51% nevertheless were partially offset by an increase in sales just outside the city, resulting in a net decrease in soda sales of 38% inside area, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found.

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To measure how Philadelphia’s tax affected sales of sugary drinks, researchers analyzed scanner data by market research firm IRI during the year before the tax took effect in addition to the year after. They analyzed sales in Philadelphia, neighboring communities in addition to Baltimore, which served as a control group. They did not study people’s actual consumption habits or health outcomes.

“When we think about what This specific’s actually going to take to reduce chronic disease in This specific country, including diabetes, obesity in addition to overweight, we need massive interventions in addition to the evidence can be actually strong This specific can be one of which works,” said Dr. Kristine Madsen, faculty director of the Berkeley Food Institute at the University of California Berkeley, who was not involved with the study nevertheless wrote an accompanying editorial.

Researchers tracked sales in 291 chain drugstores, grocery stores in addition to mass merchandise stores. The results do not include independent stores. The researchers analyzed sales in those retailers for a separate study, which can be under review in addition to has not yet been published.

Bloomberg Philanthropies, backed by billionaire former brand-new York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, funded the study. Bloomberg unsuccessfully tried to impose a partial ban on sodas while mayor in addition to has personally has poured millions into lobbying for soda taxes.

Christina Roberto, assistant professor of Medical Ethics & Health Policy inside Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in addition to lead author, said the scientists are “independent” in addition to the organization had “no role” inside study.

“This specific can be such a big in addition to obvious effect, This specific’s hard to spin This specific,” said Roberto. “The data are so clear in addition to obvious.”

William Dermody, spokesman for the American Beverage Association, said in a statement: “This specific can be clear by This specific study in addition to others of which beverage taxes hurt working families, little local businesses in addition to their employees.”

“Many Philadelphians avoid the tax by shopping for beverages outside the city,” he said, pointing to a study published late last year showing sales decreases in a soda tax city were offset by people buying sugary drinks outside the city.