Seattle residents bought 7% more beer than Portlanders two years after 2018 soda tax

Seattle residents bought 7% more beer after the city passed a soda tax in 2018, according to a new study.

Alcohol consumption by residents of Emerald City increased by 5% compared to neighboring Portland on the West Coast, after the tax on sugary drinks, according to a study by researchers from the University of Illinois. in Chicago, Lisa M. Powell and Julien Leider, published last month in the newspaper. PLOS ONE.

“There was evidence of substitution to beer following the implementation of the Seattle SSB (sweetened beverage) tax,” the authors concluded.

Seattle City Council members voted 7 to 1 for the tax in June 2017, according to the Seattle Times. The tax is 1.75 cents per ounce, which is about $1.18 per two-liter bottle.

Critics of soda taxes say they often target low-income households and don’t work, though studies show a drop in soda sales. Similar taxes have been implemented in Washington, DC; Philadelphia Cream; San Francisco and Boulder, Colorado.

The tax resulted in a “36% drop in consumption of taxed beverages for children and a 33% drop in consumption for adults,” according to a 2020 analysis of low-income residents

The Seattle City Council passed the soda tax in 2017. It was implemented on January 1, 2018 at the rate of 1.75 cents per ounce, which is about $1.18 per two-liter bottle.

Seattle's soda tax was first proposed by former Democratic mayor Ed Murray, who was criticized for not including diet sodas in the plan

Seattle’s soda tax was first proposed by former Democratic mayor Ed Murray, who was criticized for not including diet sodas in the plan

Beer and liquor sales up from Portland, but wine down

Beer and liquor sales up from Portland, but wine down

Washington State has the highest excise tax in the country for distilled spirits at $35.31 per gallon, although alcohol tax does not apply to beer, making it a cheaper and more attractive alternative.

The tax led to a decrease in soda purchases.

A previous study, also by Powell, showed that the amount of sugar sold in beverages subject to the tax was down 23% from Portland a year later.

“After accounting for substitutions, there was a net reduction of 19% in grams of sugar sold from taxed beverages,” Powell said, according to The counter. “So there has definitely been some compensation, but there is always ultimately a substantial reduction in grams of sugar sold.”

Researchers from the University of Washington, Seattle Children’s Research Institute and Public Health – Seattle & King County conducted surveys of 315 children and their low-income parents before the tax took effect, six months after and 12 months, depending on the University of Washington School of Public Health.

The tax resulted in a “36% drop in consumption of taxed beverages for children and a 33% drop in consumption for adults,” according to the 2020 analysis.

Last month’s study found that the volume of beer sold in Seattle two years after the tax increased by 7%, but the volume of wine decreased by 3%.

The study only measures sales at stores that sell alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

It does not take into account beer or wine sales at liquor stores or restaurants, which means the increase could have been higher.

“Good people in Seattle responded to a tax on sugary drinks by buying more beer,” Christopher Snowdon tweeted in response to the study’s findings, as reported. Raison.

Snowdon is the director of Lifestyle Economics at the right-wing Institute of Economic Affairs, a London-based think tank.

The study authors say that previous studies have “found consistent evidence” that some people switched to other beverages, particularly bottled water, after soda taxes, but that some assessments to Philadelphia and Cook County, Illinois “found no evidence” of this.

Ultimately, the authors call for “continued monitoring of potential unintended outcomes related to the implementation of SSB taxes” in future tax assessments.

They pointed to the “higher risk of traffic accidents/death, cirrhosis of the liver, sexually transmitted diseases, crime and violence, and work injuries” associated with switching to beer.

Christopher Snowdon, director of lifestyle economics at the right-wing Institute of Economics, tweeted about the study earlier this month

Christopher Snowdon, director of lifestyle economics at the right-wing Institute of Economics, tweeted about the study earlier this month

Seattle’s soda tax was first proposed by former Mayor Ed Murray, a Democrat.

Murray was briefly criticized for not counting diet sodas, which studies showed were more often consumed by wealthier, whiter residents.

Diet drinks were not included in the final plan.

“I am always happy to sign legislation that holds companies accountable for profiting from products that endanger people’s health, especially young people’s health,” Murray said at a signing ceremony, according to KING-TV.

“This is a huge win for Seattle,” Victor Colman, director of the Seattle-based Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition, told the Seattle Times after the tax was passed in 2017.

“It’s not a panacea for the problem of childhood obesity, but it’s a huge marker for taking that step. Drops in consumption will occur and we will see better health in the communities that need it most.

More than 40% of Americans are obese, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the condition costs Americans about $150 billion a year, the agency estimates.

Powell and Leider, the authors of the study, previously found that sales of sugary drinks fell 30.5% in the months following the tax.

The tax brought in more than $22 million in revenue in 2018, according to the Seattle Times, or $7 million more than expected by city officials.

But in 2018, Washington state voters approved a statewide ballot initiative to bar other municipalities from implementing such a tax.

Beverage companies spent $20.3 million to support the ban, according to Voice.