Jan 10, 2024 - News

Philadelphia sees effects from soda tax, per report

Illustration of a soda can with a quarter as the top.

Illustration: Victoria Ellis/Axios

Philadelphia saw the biggest drop in sugar-sweetened beverage sales and the highest increase in their retail prices among four other large U.S. cities that put in place a soda tax, per a new study.

Why it matters: Philly was the first U.S. city to impose a tax on sweetened drinks in 2017, which funds investments in education and improvements to public spaces, like recreation centers.

Driving the news: In the two years after the tax, sugar-sweetened beverage sales in Philly dropped nearly 47%, per a study by JAMA Health Forum released last week.

  • Beverage prices also rose more than 58%.

What they did: The research analyzed and estimated the effects of the tax on sugar-sweetened beverage prices and purchase volume in the first two years in Philly; Boulder, Colorado; San Francisco; Oakland, California; and Seattle.

  • The study compared taxed beverages to prices and sales in untaxed cities over the same period.

By the numbers: In all five cities with sugar-sweetened beverage taxes, those sales decreased while prices increased, both by an average of about 33%, per the study.

The takeaway: "These taxes have the potential to have the same outcomes nationwide," Scott Kaplan, an economics expert at the United States Naval Academy and co-author of the report, tells Axios.

  • Putting soda taxes in place elsewhere would "likely generate significant population health benefits and medical cost savings," the report added.

Read the full study


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