Today the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) called on Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter to abandon his misguided budget proposal to tax sugar-sweetened beverages by two cents per ounce.

“The tax code should not be used as a tool for social engineering. Nor should it be an instrument for penalizing individuals who make food choices that some people in city government don’t like,” said J. Justin Wilson, Senior Research Analyst at the Center for Consumer Freedom. “Mayor Nutter’s proposal will serve to fatten the wallet of Philadelphia’s government, but will have little impact on the waistlines of its citizens.”

An overwhelming body of research on food and beverage taxes questions the effectiveness of such a tax placed on sugar-sweetened beverages. A recent study out of Emory University determined that there is no demonstrable impact on rates of obesity when soda is taxed at the rate being considered in Philadelphia.

A poll of 1,006 adults by the Opinion Research Corporation (ORC) in the fall of 2009 found that two-thirds of Americans are opposed to taxing soda. When specifically asked whether they agreed or disagreed that “carbonated soft drinks should carry extra taxes in order to discourage their consumption,” 65% disagreed, while only 28% agreed. 

“Sugar-sweetened beverages are no more fattening than any other food with calories,” Wilson continued. “It's only the overconsumption of calories, whether from soda or other foods and drinks, that lead people to put on extra pounds. Soda is not a unique cause of obesity.”