Impact of the Berkeley Excise Tax on Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption

Am J Public Health. 2016 Oct;106(10):1865-71. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2016.303362. Epub 2016 Aug 23.


Objectives: To evaluate the impact of the excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption in Berkeley, California, which became the first US jurisdiction to implement such a tax ($0.01/oz) in March 2015.

Methods: We used a repeated cross-sectional design to examine changes in pre- to posttax beverage consumption in low-income neighborhoods in Berkeley versus in the comparison cities of Oakland and San Francisco, California. A beverage frequency questionnaire was interviewer administered to 990 participants before the tax and 1689 after the tax (approximately 8 months after the vote and 4 months after implementation) to examine relative changes in consumption.

Results: Consumption of SSBs decreased 21% in Berkeley and increased 4% in comparison cities (P = .046). Water consumption increased more in Berkeley (+63%) than in comparison cities (+19%; P < .01).

Conclusions: Berkeley's excise tax reduced SSB consumption in low-income neighborhoods. Evaluating SSB taxes in other cities will improve understanding of their public health benefit and their generalizability.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Beverages / economics*
  • Beverages / statistics & numerical data
  • California
  • Commerce / economics*
  • Commerce / trends
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dietary Sucrose / supply & distribution
  • Drinking Behavior
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sweetening Agents*
  • Taxes / economics*


  • Dietary Sucrose
  • Sweetening Agents