What’s a sugar sweetened beverage (SSB)?
Is there really that much sugar in sugar sweetened beverages?
Will milk be taxed?
Will diet soda be taxed?
What’s the difference between an excise tax and a sales tax?
Why not tax candy too?
Does consumption of sugar sweetened beverages really contribute to obesity?
Is obesity really a problem in Vermont?
Is there really a connection between drinking SSBs and being unhealthy?
Why an excise tax on sugar sweetened beverages?
Why a penny an ounce excise tax?
How will the money from the tax be spent?
Why is new revenue needed to fund health-related programs?
What organizations are supporting a penny an ounce exise tax on sugar sweetened beverages?
SSBs include soda, sweetened iced teas like Snapple, sports drinks like Gatorade, energy drinks like Red Bull, fruit juices or drinks with added sugar like Kool Aid and Hawaiian Punch, and flavored water like Vitaminwater.
For example, Ocean Spray Cranberry Cocktail would be taxed because it contains added sugar, orange juice would not be taxed because no additional sugar is added.
Yes. A 20oz Coke or Pepsi has 16.75 teaspoons of sugar. A 20oz Mountain Dew has 19.25 teaspoons of sugar. A 12oz Cranberry Cocktail has 12 teaspoons of sugar. A typical 12oz sports drink has 5 teaspoons of sugar.
No, all milk based products, such as chocolate milk, will be excluded from the tax. This is because milk has important nutrients and there is no scientific evidence that milk with added sugar is a significant contributor to obesity
No because it is not sweetened with sugar. There is no scientific evidence that diet soda is a significant contributor to obesity.
An excise tax is built into the price of the SSBs at the wholesale level so the consumer sees the added price when the product is on the shelf. A sales tax is added at checkout and thus the consumer doesn’t see the added price until they have already made the decision to purchase the SSB. In addition, sales tax by law is limited to 6% which research says is not enough of a price increase to affect consumption.
There is no scientific evidence that candy is a significant contributor to obesity. In addition, some candy contains important nutrients.
Yes because people do not reduce their calorie intake from other foods to compensate for the calories consumed from SSBs and therefore are consuming more calories overall. A 2009 study in the New England Journal of Medicine reports that SSBs may be the single largest driver of the obesity epidemic. According to the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, Vermonters drink 21.5 million gallons of SSBs annuall. Soda is the single largest contributor of caloric intake in the U.S.—the average American now drinks 45 gallons of sugar sweetened beverages per year.
Yes. According to the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System 33.9% of adult Vermonters were overweight and an additional 24.0% were obese. As of 2008, 13.3% of Vermont children between the ages of two and four surveyed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were obese, up from 11.6% in 1998. And according to the Vermont Youth Risk Behavior Survey in 2009, 12% of students in grades 8-12 were obese and an additional 14% were overweight. In addition, obesity is costing Vermonters millions of dollars a year: obesity related expenditures in Vermont are $183 million annually and half of all Medicare and Medicaid expenses in Vermont are attributed to obesity.
There are numerous studies linking SSB consumption to cancer, diabetes, heart disease and other illnesses. Go to the “More Information on SSB Consumption and Their Link to Obesity and Other Health Problems” page on this website for details.
An excise tax has three advantages over a sales tax:
- An excise tax may have a greater effect on altering consumer behavior because it is built into the purchase price that the consumer sees on the shelf as they make the decision to purchase the item.
- Excise taxes may offer a disincentive for consumers to buy larger volume containers of SSBs because it is a tax per ounce which increases as the volume increases.
- The sales tax in Vermont is set at 6% which research says is not a high enough tax to decrease consumption
- A sales tax may also offer an incentive for consumers to purchase less expensive brands with the same caloric content instead of choosing not to purchase an SSB at all.
The March 2010 issue of Health Affairs found that: “A tax of one cent an ounce on sugar-sweetened beverages—about a 10% price increase on a twelve-ounce can—would be likely to be the single most effective measure against the [childhood] obesity epidemic.” A review of 160 studies related to the price elasticity of demand (a measure of how responsive demand is to changes in price) for major food categories found that soft drinks were responsive to price changes such that a 10% increase in price should reduce consumption by approximately 8%.
The Alliance for a Health Vermont is advocating at that the entire projected $27 million raised by a penny an ounce excise tax on SSBs be earmarked to programs that help Vermonters lead healthier lives. This would include (but is not limited to): providing more low income Vermont students free school lunches, keeping public health care programs Catamount Health, VHAP and Dr Dynasaur affordable and funding a public education campaign about the link between SSB consumption and obesity.
Over the last three years, the approximately $1 billion state General Fund has been cut by about $300 million dollars. And, there is a projected $110 million state general fund budget deficit for the upcoming FY 2011/12; the Catamount Health Fund alone is projected to have an $8 million deficit. Simply put, new revenues are needed to fund social programs that have already been cut to the bone or eliminated entirely.
Most of the organizations that deal with the public health are supporting a penny an ounce excise tax on SSBs including the:
Vermont Medical Society ● American Academy of Pediatrics Vermont Chapter ● Vermont State Dental Society ● Vermont Dental Hygienists’ Association ● VPIRG ● Voices for Vermont’s Children ● American Cancer Society ● Health Care Ombudsman’s Office ● American Heart Association ● Vermont Academy of Family Physicians ● Vermont Nurse Practitioners Association ● Vermont Association of Naturopathic Physicians ●AARP-Vermont ● Vermont NEA ● Vermont Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance ● Vermont Citizens Campaign for Health ● Vermont Association of Nurse Anesthetists ● Vermont Campaign for Health Care Security ● VT Chiropractic Association ● Meeting Waters YMCA ● Healthy Communities Coalition of Windham County ● VT Pharmacists Association ● Health Connections of the Upper Valley ● VT Public Health Association ● VT Association of Diabetes Educators ● VT Association of Orthodontists