COPC Statement – Seattle’s Sugary Drink Tax Proposal

Mar 3, 2017 by

COPC Statement – Seattle’s Sugary Drink Tax Proposal

COPC Statement – Seattle’s Sugary Drink Tax Proposal


We were cheered by Mayor Murray’s announcement last week about his intention to advance a sugary drink tax to bolster efforts in early learning, education and access to healthy foods. Clearly the idea of a sugary drink tax to improve community health is catching a wave these days and we are confident that Seattle will join that (hopefully not-so-exclusive) club of municipalities who are being assertive about health improvement in communities hardest hit by the impact of added sugar in their diet.

We were obviously interested to read what data the Seattle Times and the FYI Guy uncovered in his story on March 2, 2017. The national beverage consumption chart was especially enlightening to read. But we feel that the good information found in this story was undercut by the headline “Seattle’s soda-tax plan may hurt those it aims to help.” While such a headline might be designed to sell more newspapers we would assert that it is, at best, an out-of-focus frame to the story, or at worst disingenuous. First the headline wrongly characterizes the beverages taxed as “soda” which generally refers to carbonated beverages, thereby excluding sports drinks and juices with added sugar (sales of which are on the rise, compared to soda). Second, the headline fails to account for the intentional design of the tax, which is to discourage sales of sugary drinks to improve health and also collect new revenue which will be invested in those communities hardest hit by the negative health impacts of added sugar in their diet.

Raising sugary drink taxes is not just an economics case study, it is a robust policy idea that, at its core, directly supports those in our communities that our beverage industry loves to target – minority and low-income communities. Come on Seattle Times – tell the whole story!

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