Seattle's Sweetened Beverage Tax is an excise tax of 1.75 cents per ounce on sugar-sweetened beverages and is one of the highest beverage taxes in the U.S. This study examined the impact of Seattle's tax on the prices of beverages. We conducted audits of 407 retail food stores and eating places (quick service restaurants and coffee shops) before and 6 months after the tax was implemented in Seattle and in a comparison area. Ordinary least squares difference-in-differences models with store fixed effects were used to estimate the effect of the tax on prices, stratified by beverage type and store type. In secondary analyses, we assessed the effect of the tax on the price of non-taxed beverages and foods. Results from the adjusted difference-in-differences models indicated the tax was associated with an average increase of 1.58 cents per ounce among Seattle retailers, representing 90 % of the price of the tax. By store type, price increases were highest in smaller grocery stores and drug stores. By beverage type, price increases were highest for energy beverages and soda and lowest for bottled coffee and juice drinks. Prices of some non-taxed beverages also increased while the prices of select healthy foods generally did not. The sweetened beverage tax in Seattle is higher than beverage taxes in most other cities, and nearly the full cost of the tax is being passed through to consumers for many beverage types and stores types.
Keywords: Beverage taxes; Food policy; Health policy; Obesity; Soda taxes.
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