Objectives: We assessed the short-term ability to increase retail prices of the first US 1-cent-per-ounce excise tax on the distribution of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), which was implemented in March 2015 by Berkeley, California.
Methods: In 2014 and 2015, we examined pre- to posttax price changes of SSBs and non-SSBs in a variety of retailers in Berkeley and in the comparison cities Oakland and San Francisco, California. We examined price changes by beverage, brand, size, and retailer type.
Results: For smaller beverages (≤ 33.8 oz), price increases (cents/oz) in Berkeley relative to those in comparison cities were 0.69 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.36, 1.03) for soda, 0.47 (95% CI = 0.08, 0.87) for fruit-flavored beverages, and 0.47 (95% CI = 0.25, 0.69) for SSBs overall. For 2-liter bottles and multipacks of soda, relative price increases were 0.46 (95% CI = 0.03, 0.89) and 0.49 (95% CI = 0.21, 0.77). We observed no relative price increases for nontaxed beverages overall.
Conclusions: Approximately 3 months after the tax was implemented, SSB retail prices increased more in Berkeley than in nearby cities, marking a step in the causal pathway between the tax and reduced SSB consumption.