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, 19 (1), 910

Perceptions of the Possible Health and Economic Impacts of Seattle's Sugary Beverage Tax


Perceptions of the Possible Health and Economic Impacts of Seattle's Sugary Beverage Tax

Vanessa M Oddo et al. BMC Public Health.


Background: Taxes on sugary beverages are an emerging strategy to improve health by reducing consumption and raising revenues to support community wellbeing. However, taxes may have unintended consequences, and perceptions of these consequences may affect attitudes towards this policy.

Methods: In June 2017, the Seattle City Council passed an ordinance imposing a tax on sugary beverages, effective January 1, 2018. Between October and December 2017, we recruited 851 adults in Seattle to complete a survey (telephone or online) about support for the tax and their perceptions of tax-related health and economic impacts. We first analyzed data for the full sample. We then tested for differences in participants' responses by household income level (< 260% Federal Poverty Level [FPL], ≥ 260% FPL) and across race/ethnicities using chi-square tests. Analyses used population weights and adjusted for multiple comparisons, using the Holm-Bonferroni Sequential Correction (p < 0.01).

Results: A majority of participants supported the sugary beverage tax (59%; 95% Confidence Interval [CI]: 55, 63%) and believed that the tax would improve public health (56%; CI: 52, 60%). Most participants believed that the tax would not negatively affect small businesses (52%; CI: 48, 56%) nor result in job loss (66%; CI: 62, 70%). Most participants also perceived that the tax would not negatively impact their own finances (79%; CI: 75, 82%). However, fewer lower-income (48%; CI: 42, 53%), versus higher-income participants (61%; CI: 55, 66%), perceived that the tax would improve public health, would not result in job loss (lower-income: 58%; CI: 53, 64%; higher-income: 71%; CI: 66, 75%) and would not negatively affect their own finances (lower-income: 68%; CI: 62, 73%; higher-income: 85%; CI: 81, 88%). Compared to non-Hispanic Whites, (82%; CI: 79, 86%), a smaller proportion of non-Hispanic Blacks (63%; 95% CI: 48, 75%), and Hispanics (67%; 95% CI: 51, 79%), perceived that the tax would have negative consequences for their own family finances.

Conclusions: A majority of respondents supported the sugary beverage tax in Seattle. Lower-income participants were more concerned about potential financial consequences. Further evaluation of the extent to which unintended consequences occur is needed.

Keywords: Seattle; Sugary beverage tax; Sugary beverages; Tax support.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

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