Taxing sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) has been identified as a key policy lever to reduce consumption of sugary drinks and to fund nutrition and physical activity programs. This paper analyzes news coverage of three SSB tax proposals in Richmond and El Monte, Calif., and Telluride, Colo., in 2012 and 2013. Although these three proposals failed, news coverage about them was mostly positive. Representatives from the soda industry were absent from news coverage, though anti-tax speakers were often part of local groups funded by the soda industry. The most prevalent pro-tax arguments in Richmond and Telluride centered on the potential health benefits to the community and the health effects of soda. In El Monte, a city facing bankruptcy, supporters claimed the tax would bring in much-needed revenue. Opposition arguments varied based on the context in each community. Tax opponents capitalized on racial division in Richmond, while in Telluride, they argued that obesity was not a pressing problem and that the tax represented government intrusion. In El Monte, opponents predicted the tax would hurt the economy. The authors suggest that understanding the way this issue has been framed may be helpful for future campaigns.
Big Soda’s Long Shadow: News Coverage of Local Proposals to Tax Sugar-Sweetened Beverages in Richmond, El Monte and Telluride
In 2012, the California cities Richmond and El Monte asked voters to consider a penny-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs). The measures appeared on the ballot alongside companion advisory policies that proposed earmarking revenue from the tax for youth obesity prevention programs and, in El Monte, for other city services … More
The purpose of this project is to understand public debates regarding proposed local soda taxes based on experiences during 2012 in the cities of Richmond and El Monte, California, so that future ballot initiatives might better anticipate what to expect when sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) taxes are presented to local voters. … More
In 2013, Telluride, Colo., proposed a tax on sugary drinks that would require local business owners to pay the city one cent per ounce of sugar-sweetened beverages sold. The proposed tax did not pass, but generated a large amount of news coverage and controversy. This report evaluates the news coverage … More
Taxes on sugary drinks have been identified as a policy tool that could reduce consumption of these beverages or raise funds to address associated health expenses. To date, tax proposals have met stiff opposition from the beverage industry and others. An unsuccessful ballot measure in November 2013 to place a … More