Impact of the Berkeley Excise Tax on Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption

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Objectives. To evaluate the impact of the excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption in Berkeley, California, which became the first US jurisdiction to implement such a tax ($0.01/oz) in March 2015.

Methods. We used a repeated cross-sectional design to examine changes in pre- to posttax beverage consumption in low-income neighborhoods in Berkeley versus in the comparison cities of Oakland and San Francisco, California. A beverage frequency questionnaire was interviewer administered to 990 participants before the tax and 1689 after the tax (approximately 8 months after the vote and 4 months after implementation) to examine relative changes in consumption.

Results. Consumption of SSBs decreased 21% in Berkeley and increased 4% in comparison cities (P = .046). Water consumption increased more in Berkeley (+63%) than in comparison cities (+19%; P < .01).

Conclusions. Berkeley’s excise tax reduced SSB consumption in low-income neighborhoods. Evaluating SSB taxes in other cities will improve understanding of their public health benefit and their generalizability.

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Jennifer Falbe, ScD, MPH, Hannah R. Thompson, PhD, MPH, Christina M. Becker, BA, Nadia Rojas, MPH, Charles E. McCulloch, PhD, and Kristine A. Madsen, MD, MPHJennifer Falbe, Hannah R. Thompson, Christina M. Becker, Nadia Rojas, and Kristine A. Madsen are with the School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley. Charles E. McCulloch is with the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of California, San Francisco. “Impact of the Berkeley Excise Tax on Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption”, American Journal of Public Health 106, no. 10 (October 1, 2016): pp. 1865-1871.

PMID: 27552267