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Sugar taxes don't work

December 07, 2017
Sugar taxes don't work
  • CTF responds to recent call for new 20% tax on "sugar-sweetened drinks" by Alberta Policy Coalition for Chronic Disease Prevention
  • CTF report highlights several examples of failed sugar taxes

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) responded today to yesterday’s call for a new 20 per cent tax on sugar-sweetened drinks by the Alberta Policy Coalition for Chronic Disease Prevention. The CTF reminded lawmakers in Edmonton of its recent study that shows such taxes don’t work.

“It’s great that people are talking about healthy eating and prevention to save the health care system money,” said CTF Interim Alberta Director Colin Craig. “However, while several countries, cities and states have tried sugar taxes, they ultimately don’t work.”

Recently, the CTF released Sweet Nothing: Real-World Evidence of Food and Drink Taxes and their Effect on Obesity – an extensive report by journalist Peter Shawn Taylor on sugar taxes. Some of the findings include:

  • Despite a decline in soda consumption in Canada between 2004 and 2015, obesity rates continue to rise. This suggests there is no causal link between soda and obesity.
  • In Mexico, a 2014 fat tax caused a temporary decline in soda consumption. However, sales are now rising again, and there’s been no reduction in national obesity rates.
  • In Philadelphia, a new soda tax in 2017 reduced grocery sales within the city, and led to a spike in sales outside city limits, hurting downtown grocers and benefiting their suburban peers.
  • Polls showed 90 per cent of Cook County (Chicago) residents opposed a new soda tax imposed earlier this year, leading to its prompt repeal.
  • A fat tax in Denmark in 2011 led to an increase in cross-border grocery shopping to Germany to avoid the tax, and caused substantial Danish job losses. Denmark eliminated the tax a year after implementation.

“If simply taxing pop led to reduced consumption and weight loss, Canadians would already be thinner. This is the problem when you try to solve complex health issues with gimmicky tax grabs,” added Craig. “The only thing this pop tax is going to make thinner is your wallet.”

To see the CTF’s report – click here



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