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Tax on Sweetened Beverages Reduced Sales Volume in Chicago

Decrease was more than 20 percent even when accounting for cross-border shopping

TUESDAY, Feb. 25, 2020 (HealthDay News) — The Cook County Sweetened Beverage Tax (SBT) led to a substantial reduction in the volume sold of taxed beverages, according to a study published online Feb. 25 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Lisa M. Powell, Ph.D., from University of Illinois at Chicago, and colleagues evaluated the impact of the 2017 Cook County SBT on the volume of taxed and untaxed beverages sold in Cook County, Illinois, and its two-mile border area using universal product code-level store scanner data. Comparisons were made to St. Louis, Missouri, which did not pass an SBT.

The researchers found that volume sold of taxed beverages decreased by 27 percent (ratio of incidence rate ratios [RIRR], 0.73) on average in Cook County versus St. Louis during the four months that the SBT was in effect (versus the same four-month pretax period). The net decrease was 21 percent after increases in volume sold in its border area (cross-border shopping) was considered. The decline in volume sold varied across types of taxed beverages: −32 percent (RIRR, 0.68) for soda versus −11 percent (RIRR, 0.89) for energy drinks, −37 percent (RIRR, 0.63) for artificially sweetened beverages versus −25 percent (RIRR, 0.75) for sugar-sweetened beverages, and −29 percent (RIRR, 0.71) for family-size versus −19 percent (RIRR, 0.81) for individual-size beverages.

“Longer-run evaluations will continue to be important in local U.S. jurisdictions, particularly where cross-border shopping is a threat, and will determine whether a potential exists for permanent behavior change and improvements in health,” the authors write.

The authors disclosed grants from Bloomberg Philanthropies.

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