In November 2014, Berkeley, California, became the first city in the U.S. to impose the sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) tax. One of the main reasons behind the imposition of the soda tax was the rising consumption of soft drinks, which is said to propagate obesity in adults and children. In order to cut down the sales and consumption rate of the soft drinks, the SSB tax was introduced.

Soda tax

The soda tax which was approved by the Berkeley voters in November 2014 came into effect on Jan.1 2015. According to the tax, all sugar-sweetened beverages were charged with one cent per fluid ounce of each product.

This meant that any person who is looking forward to purchasing soft drinks in the city will have to pay an additional 12 cents for a 12 ounce can of a soda or Soft Drink, which was previously priced at $1.

In case one buys a two-liter soft drink bottle, one has to pay an extra 68 cents, which was previously priced a little over $2. The additional cost levied on the retail price of sugar-sweetened drinks was aimed to discourage buyers from purchasing the unhealthy drinks. It seems that the taxation has been successful.

SSB tax effect in Berkeley: study

In order to understand the effect SSB tax had on Berkeley and its adjacent cities, researchers from the Public Health Institute and Carolina Population Center at the University of North Carolina studied the sales report of beverages in Berkeley and other surrounding places from March 2015 to February 2016.

The researchers studied the price of beverages at around 26 different stores in Berkeley. They also surveyed more than 15 million soft drink items from three stores in Berkeley, two supermarket chains, and six other stores located in nearby places.

The research highlighted that the sales of SSBs in Berkeley had significantly reduced by 9.6 percent during the study period.

The researchers also stated that the sale of bottled drinking water had increased by more than 15 percent, other similar items like juices and tea. One year following implementation of the nation’s first large SSB tax, soft drink sales declined and sales of untaxed beverages (especially water) rose.

An older study conducted in 2016, showed that the consumption of SSB items had considerably decreased by 21 percent, whereas as the sales of sealed water bottles in Berkeley increased by 63 percent after the imposition of the tax. The latest research evidences the fact that implementation of the soda tax has helped reduce the consumption of the unhealthy drinks in Berkeley.