Seattle's soda tax: financial incentive for your New Year's resolution | KUOW News and Information

Seattle's soda tax: financial incentive for your New Year's resolution

Dec 27, 2017

Seattle’s new soda tax hits stores on January 1.  Officials hope the tax - 1.75 pennies for every ounce of sugary drinks purchased - will help decrease obesity without hurting businesses. Scientists in Seattle will be monitoring the results.

Seattle's tax is a bit more aggressive than soda taxes that have been tried in Berkeley and Philadelphia.

Jesse Jones-Smith is an associate professor with the University of Washington medical school. She’ll be conducting a study here. She says retailers have done just fine in other cities that have tried soda taxes. “Total grocery bill spending didn’t go down," she said, "but people did decrease their spending on sugary beverages.”

So what did people buy instead? Nothing stands out, she says, except maybe this one thing. “They did drink a little bit more LaCroix or other untaxed beverages," which she said is a good thing for public health. Scientists say obesity contributes between 6 and 20 percent to the cost of medical care in the U.S.