What if your two-liter bottle of soda suddenly cost 50% more? Would you still buy it? Congress is still debating the idea of a tax on sugar-rich soft drinks to raise money for health care and discourage people from drinking them. And I wonder: Will it actually make a difference?
What are they targeting? Full-sugar soda, sports and energy drinks, and some juices and iced teas. Sugar-free diet drinks would fly under the radar.
The proposed tax would levy an additional penny per ounce on these items. So a two-liter bottle of Sprite would jump from $1.35 to about $2.03, according to the publisher of Beverage Digest (in this New York Times article). And the price of a 12-can case of Pepsi would rise from $3.20 to $4.64. And I don’t really have a problem with it.
Maybe it’s because I’m not a high-octane soda drinker, and the tax wouldn’t affect my caffeine of choice (Diet Coke). Maybe it’s because I don’t drink sports drinks (although my husband drinks Gatorade). Maybe it’s because $2.03 for two liters of soda doesn’t seem outrageous to me.
What does seem outrageous to me is how much soda the average American consumes in a typical year–56 gallons of the stuff, if some studies are to be believed. And of course, there’s plenty of research showing that chugging full-sugar drinks isn’t doing our waistlines any favors. Unfortunately, there are also a handful of studies suggesting that switching people from regular to diet soda doesn’t actually make a difference.
What do you think? Would you buy less of the sugary stuff if the price went up? (And do you think soda should be taxed at all?)