Tell a cigarette smoker that smoking causes you lung cancer and he’ll probably blow smoke in your face. Add several dollars of taxes to his cigarettes and he might put down the cigarette.
People very quickly respond to money — particularly when it is being taken out of their wallet.
Nobody likes taxes. It’s true, and it is unclear as to whether people would vehemently reject a tax on soda. But we now have clear evidence that making it more expensive would decrease the consumption of the sugar-laden drinks.
According to a large study by researchers at the University of North Carolina (from the LA Times):
“with every 10 percent increase in the price of a two-liter bottle, people consumed 7 percent fewer calories from soda. They also took in fewer calories over all.”
What was even more impressive was that:
“When people faced an even larger increase — $1 for a two-liter bottle of soda, comparable to a proposed tax in Philadelphia — they consumed 124 fewer calories a day, the study found. The lower soda intake was associated with a drop in weight of more than two pounds — and a lower risk for pre-diabetes.”
The study looked at over 12,000 young adults for 20 years and studied food consumption patterns.
The lesson learned here? A tax would most certainly work. There have been other suggestions that making healthy food cheaper would work just as well, which is something I certainly agree with (for instance, water bottles could be the cheapest thing on the menu), but would it be enough?
There is no question that sodas, particularly those with high-fructose corn syrup, are bad for your health. So let’s get taxin’!