Today, the nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) is calling on Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter to abandon his misguided proposal to reintroduce a two-cent excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. Mayor Nutter proposed a similar tax on soda last year, which Philadelphians flatly rejected.
With Philadelphia’s public schools facing a huge budget shortfall, Mayor Nutter is looking for clever ways to bridge the city's $110 million education budget gap. But while a tax on soda will no doubt fatten the wallets of city government, it won’t slim down Philadelphians. A wealth of academic research demonstrates that taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages have no measurable effect on Americans’ waistlines.
“Taxes shouldn’t be a tool for social engineering, or an instrument to penalize Philadelphians for making choices some in the government disapprove of,” said J. Justin Wilson, Senior Research Analyst at the Center for Consumer Freedom. “There is a reason why this tax was so unpopular with Philadelphians when it was first proposed. It’s unfair to penalize Philadelphia’s citizens and retailers for the government’s out-of-control spending binges.”
Lawmakers and health zealots have placed blame for Americans’ obesity squarely on soda. But according to research from the National Institutes of Health, soft drink consumption accounts for less than six percent of an average person’s daily calorie intake. And the author of a recent study on soda-tax effectiveness, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, suggests that consumers would likely switch to untaxed beverages with the same quantity of calories (such as whole milk or fruit juice) if sugar-sweetened beverages were taxed.
“Taxing citizens into thin submission is a recipe for failure,” continued Wilson. “Mayor Nutter should be calling on city government to tighten its belt, not making citizens and retailers swallow this not-so-sweet tax.”