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Designing Sugary Drink Taxes

A legal & practical guide

Food & Beverages

Public health experts target reductions in sugary drink consumption as a primary method for improving community health outcomes.

Sugary drinks are the number one source of added sugars in the American diet and are a major contributor to our country’s high rates of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, poor oral health, and other chronic health conditions, as well as associated health disparities among racial and income groups.

In the last few years, one reduction strategy has received growing support from both the public and policymakers: taxing sugary drinks to both decrease consumption and raise revenues that can be invested in creating healthier communities and addressing social and health inequities.

ChangeLab Solutions and Healthy Food America created A Legal and Practical Guide for Designing Sugary Drink Taxes for local officials and advocates who are interested in pursuing sugary drink taxes.

The guide begins by answering a critical first question: Why enact a sugary drink tax? It then identifies best practices and potential pitfalls in designing and implementing sugary drink taxes, focusing on considerations that affect the scope and breadth of a proposed tax, as well as disposition of tax revenue. The guide briefly examines the process for passing and implementing a tax and ends with a discussion of the potential challenges that future tax efforts might face.

If you have questions about adopting a sugary drink tax in your community, please contact ChangeLab Solutions, Healthy Food America, or a local attorney. Check out ChangeLab Solutions' other resources on regulating sugary drinks as well as Healthy Food America's tools and publications