San Francisco Soda Tax Leaves a Bitter Taste
Source Newsroom: Cornell University
David Just, food marketing and economics expert and professor at Cornell University’s Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, discusses the possible reaction if the proposed tax on sugary beverages passes in San Francisco.
“Soda taxes like those proposed are bad ideas for three reasons. First, they are not effective in fighting obesity. They have little impact on soda consumption and even less effect on calorie intake because consumers who reduce soda consumption just shift to other high calorie alternatives.
“Second, soda taxes on consumption tend to anger exactly the consumers who you would like to target – habitual soda drinkers. These consumers display what psychologists call reactance – a rebellion against a perceived threat to their freedom. In some studies we find that consumers strengthen their love of soda when they feel threatened by such a tax.
“Third, soda taxes are elitist and place an undue burden on the poor. It is true that soda is overwhelmingly more popular among low-income families than high-income families. But there are drinks that are just as bad in every measure that are not being targeted--those sold by high-end coffee shops and the like. Soda is targeted not because it is junk food; it is targeted because it is the junk food of choice for low-income families. Honest health policy would target health, not class.”
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