BOSTON (June 7, 2017)—Excise taxes to reduce the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages have not yet been enacted at the state or federal level in the United States, but since 2014 seven municipal or county jurisdictions have adopted such taxes. A new viewpoint written by researchers at Tufts University and Harvard Kennedy School evaluated reasons for success or failure and whether local sugar-sweetened beverage taxes are likely to spread.
The article, published online in Food Policy on June 6, compared 11 sugar-sweetened beverage tax efforts made since 2012—both successful and failed—based on city characteristics, political process characteristics, and external financial support. Democratic Party dominance emerged as the most important city characteristic necessary for political success, say the authors. Since, according to the authors’ calculations, roughly 40 percent of the U.S. population lives in Democratic-run cities, considerable room exists for more local tax efforts to succeed.