Oof. Seattle Sugar Tax Raises Soda Prices by 75 Percent

 

Seattle residents started the new year with a bad case of sticker shock followed by a sugar crash. A new tax of 1.75 cents per ounce was added to all sweetened beverages sold in the city. The move had public support in June when it was passed 7-1 by the Seattle City Council, but images of regret have been hitting social media as the bill came due Monday.

The prices at an area Costco showed that the tax increases the price of Gatorade by 65 percent and Dr Pepper by 75 percent. To avoid complaints from outraged customers, the discount chain posted an explanation of the steep price increase.

Where will all the new revenue go? Seattle officials expect a $15 million boost in the first year. Since this was sold as a health initiative, $2 million of that will expand a city program that gives fruit and vegetable vouchers to low-income families. Of course, only $400,000 will go to actual vouchers; the other $1.6 million stays with the government for “administrative costs.”

Philadelphia, which enacted a similar tax last year, overestimated the expected revenue. Sales of carbonated soft drinks fell 55 percent inside the city, while sales rose 38 percent in the towns that surround it. It achieved neither the financial goals nor the health goals.

When the Seattle tax was first proposed, a “racial-equity analysis” found that diet beverages should be included since they are more popular among whites and the wealthy people. The politicians shot this down since they know which constituents donate to and vote for them.

Like most of these beverage taxes hitting blue cities, what is and is not included are counter-intuitive. All meal replacement drinks, powdered mixes, and most sugary coffee drinks — such as those found at local mega-company Starbucks — are exempt.

So, if you buy a bottled lemonade, you pay the tax. If you buy Kool-Aid and mix it with water at home, no tax. If you buy a Venti Brown Sugar Shortbread Latte at Starbucks, the tax doesn’t apply. If you get a Tall Brown Sugar Shortbread Frappuccino, which has less sugar, it does.

Local convenience store owner Jong Kim is frustrated, to say the least:

“What can I do? I have no power,” he mused, shrugging his shoulders behind the counter at his store, Summit Foods. “Seattle is too expensive. Everything is a tax.”

Oh well, I’m sure this foolish new soda tax will turn out fine just like Seattle’s foolish minimum wage hike.

There are 224 comments.

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  1. Member

    I’m sure they will be as successful keeping soda out of Seattle as Chicago is at keeping guns out of their city.

    • #1
    • January 5, 2018 at 7:19 pm
    • 11 likes
  2. Member

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: Oh well, I’m sure this foolish new soda tax will turn out fine just like Seattle’s foolish minimum wage hike.


    They ”fixed” that problem by raising in the test of the state…

    • #2
    • January 5, 2018 at 7:32 pm
    • 2 likes
  3. Member

    I’m between two minds on this one. This tax seems to be very heavy handed, but there is an obesity/diabetes/fatty-liver disease epidemic in America and the over consumption of sugar is probably a major driver, if not the outright cause. The incidence of obesity and diabetes is so high it is absurd. Maybe this tax isn’t the most effective way of dealing with this problem, but something has to be done.

    • #3
    • January 5, 2018 at 7:49 pm
    • 4 likes
  4. Member

    Qoumidan (View Comment):

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: Oh well, I’m sure this foolish new soda tax will turn out fine just like Seattle’s foolish minimum wage hike.


    They ”fixed” that problem by raising in the test of the state…

    Exactly. The only thing that will happen is that they’ll say it has to pass at the state level in order for it to work, which will mean – as usual – that the idiots in Seattle govern what happens for the rest of us. The bag-ban is making its way west. It has hit Ellensburg, and it’s only a matter of time before it is state wide.

    • #4
    • January 5, 2018 at 7:55 pm
    • 4 likes
  5. Member

    Black Prince (View Comment):
    I’m between two minds on this one. This tax seems to be very heavy handed, but there is an obesity/diabetes/fatty-liver disease epidemic in America and the over consumption of sugar is probably a major driver, if not the outright cause. The incidence of obesity and diabetes is so high it is absurd. Maybe this tax isn’t the most effective way of dealing with this problem, but something has to be done.

    Wrong. Nothing has to be done.

    If you don’t want diabetes, eat more responsibly. That’s your own damned problem. Or maybe we should start regulating everything? Make it illegal to lift with your back and not your knees, make a law about sitting too close to the television screen or reading in low light. How about a mandate on wearing your coat when it’s too cold outside; certainly we can ban gym shorts after November, right?

    Or maybe we should just ban diabetes, the common cold, and eventually death… It’s working for North Korea.

    • #5
    • January 5, 2018 at 7:58 pm
    • 40 likes
  6. Member

    Hammer, The (View Comment):

    Black Prince (View Comment):
    I’m between two minds on this one. This tax seems to be very heavy handed, but there is an obesity/diabetes/fatty-liver disease epidemic in America and the over consumption of sugar is probably a major driver, if not the outright cause. The incidence of obesity and diabetes is so high it is absurd. Maybe this tax isn’t the most effective way of dealing with this problem, but something has to be done.

    Wrong. Nothing has to be done.

    If you don’t want diabetes, eat more responsibly. That’s your own damned problem. Or maybe we should start regulating everything? Make it illegal to lift with your back and not your knees, make a law about sitting too close to the television screen or reading in low light. How about a mandate on wearing your coat when it’s too cold outside; certainly we can ban gym shorts after November, right?

    Or maybe we should just ban diabetes, the common cold, and eventually death… It’s working for North Korea.

    So I guess you’re for legalizing all drugs?

    • #6
    • January 5, 2018 at 8:00 pm
    • Like
  7. Member

    Black Prince (View Comment):
    I’m between two minds on this one. This tax seems to be very heavy handed, but there is a obesity/diabetes/fatty-liver disease epidemic in America and the over consumption of sugar is a major contributing factor, if not the outright cause. The incidence of obesity and diabetes is ridiculously high in this county and something has to be done.

    Couldn’t agree more. Given the clear-cut health impact of Americans’ overconsumption of sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, soft drinks seem highly tax-worthy to me. As much as I hate agreeing with Seattle progressives, I think this tax has merit.

    • #7
    • January 5, 2018 at 8:03 pm
    • 1 like
  8. Member

    rico (View Comment):

    Black Prince (View Comment):
    I’m between two minds on this one. This tax seems to be very heavy handed, but there is a obesity/diabetes/fatty-liver disease epidemic in America and the over consumption of sugar is a major contributing factor, if not the outright cause. The incidence of obesity and diabetes is ridiculously high in this county and something has to be done.

    Couldn’t agree more. Given the clear-cut health impact of Americans’ overconsumption of sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, soft drinks seem highly tax-worthy to me. As much as I hate agreeing with Seattle progressives, I think this tax has merit.

    I hate agreeing with progressives too, but I take some comfort in knowing that even a broken clock is right twice a day. To be honest, I think that the over-consumption of sugar is doing more harm to our country than illegal drugs.

    • #8
    • January 5, 2018 at 8:06 pm
    • 2 likes
  9. Member

    Hammer, The (View Comment):
    If you don’t want diabetes, eat more responsibly.

    The damage to health is much broader than merely diabetes. Off the top of my head I’d point to heart disease and Alzheimer’s Disease as two areas of concern.

    • #9
    • January 5, 2018 at 8:14 pm
    • 1 like
  10. Member

    Black Prince (View Comment):

    Hammer, The (View Comment):

    Black Prince (View Comment):
    I’m between two minds on this one. This tax seems to be very heavy handed, but there is an obesity/diabetes/fatty-liver disease epidemic in America and the over consumption of sugar is probably a major driver, if not the outright cause. The incidence of obesity and diabetes is so high it is absurd. Maybe this tax isn’t the most effective way of dealing with this problem, but something has to be done.

    Wrong. Nothing has to be done.

    If you don’t want diabetes, eat more responsibly. That’s your own damned problem. Or maybe we should start regulating everything? Make it illegal to lift with your back and not your knees, make a law about sitting too close to the television screen or reading in low light. How about a mandate on wearing your coat when it’s too cold outside; certainly we can ban gym shorts after November, right?

    Or maybe we should just ban diabetes, the common cold, and eventually death… It’s working for North Korea.

    So I guess you’re for legalizing all drugs?

    Are you considering sugar to be a drug?

    I suppose that is one pretty good example of why the logic of drug-banning is takes us down such dangerous paths.

    • #10
    • January 5, 2018 at 8:18 pm
    • 14 likes
  11. Member

    rico (View Comment):

    Hammer, The (View Comment):
    If you don’t want diabetes, eat more responsibly.

    The damage to health is much broader than merely diabetes. Off the top of my head I’d point to heart disease and Alzheimer’s Disease as two areas of concern.

    Yes, and if we’re talking about health, we should consider exercise as an even more important factor. Perhaps we should ban all television-watching after 5:00pm in order to encourage people to get out and exercise?

    I don’t have any problem with identifying the causes of harm, or even with those who have the urge to preach against those causes loudly (and less loudly when they’re shown to be wrong, but by then they’ve moved on to something else). It does not follow, however, that the government needs to get involved and force people to do things that someone in the government decides are good.

    Or – maybe it’s a quality of life issue. Let’s say that a person enjoys sugary soda so much that he considers diabetes to be a good trade-off? Isn’t that the sort of decision that people make every day? What right do I have – or does anyone have – to step in and say that people may no longer make those decisions for themselves? What if, for instance, I believe that life is not worth living if you do not believe in God – that your short existence would be meaningless without a solid faith? Should we make laws that you must join my religion in order to improve your quality of life? Surely your eternal soul is more important than the risk of diabetes, right?

    • #11
    • January 5, 2018 at 8:23 pm
    • 14 likes
  12. Member

    Hammer, The (View Comment):

    Black Prince (View Comment):

    Hammer, The (View Comment):

    Black Prince (View Comment):
    I’m between two minds on this one. This tax seems to be very heavy handed, but there is an obesity/diabetes/fatty-liver disease epidemic in America and the over consumption of sugar is probably a major driver, if not the outright cause. The incidence of obesity and diabetes is so high it is absurd. Maybe this tax isn’t the most effective way of dealing with this problem, but something has to be done.

    Wrong. Nothing has to be done.

    If you don’t want diabetes, eat more responsibly. That’s your own damned problem. Or maybe we should start regulating everything? Make it illegal to lift with your back and not your knees, make a law about sitting too close to the television screen or reading in low light. How about a mandate on wearing your coat when it’s too cold outside; certainly we can ban gym shorts after November, right?

    Or maybe we should just ban diabetes, the common cold, and eventually death… It’s working for North Korea.

    So I guess you’re for legalizing all drugs?

    Are you considering sugar to be a drug?

    I suppose that is one pretty good example of why the logic of drug-banning is takes us down such dangerous paths.

    There is some debate over the addictive/psychoactive properties of sugar, but if you believe that government should intervene in extreme situations where something is causing serious harm to society, then one can make a similar argument about the over-consumption of sugar.

    • #12
    • January 5, 2018 at 8:24 pm
    • 2 likes
  13. Member

    Black Prince (View Comment):
    I’m between two minds on this one. This tax seems to be very heavy handed, but there is an obesity/diabetes/fatty-liver disease epidemic in America and the over consumption of sugar is probably a major driver, if not the outright cause. The incidence of obesity and diabetes is so high it is absurd. Maybe this tax isn’t the most effective way of dealing with this problem, but something has to be done.

    No, something doesn’t. At least not by the government.

    • #13
    • January 5, 2018 at 8:40 pm
    • 12 likes
  14. Member

    Black Prince (View Comment):

    rico (View Comment):

    Black Prince (View Comment):
    I’m between two minds on this one. This tax seems to be very heavy handed, but there is a obesity/diabetes/fatty-liver disease epidemic in America and the over consumption of sugar is a major contributing factor, if not the outright cause. The incidence of obesity and diabetes is ridiculously high in this county and something has to be done.

    Couldn’t agree more. Given the clear-cut health impact of Americans’ overconsumption of sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, soft drinks seem highly tax-worthy to me. As much as I hate agreeing with Seattle progressives, I think this tax has merit.

    I hate agreeing with progressives too, but I take some comfort in knowing that even a broken clock is right twice a day. To be honest, I think that the over-consumption of sugar is doing more harm to our country than illegal drugs.

    Yeah, prohibition works great.

    • #14
    • January 5, 2018 at 8:43 pm
    • 4 likes
  15. Member

    Patrick McClure (View Comment):

    Black Prince (View Comment):
    I’m between two minds on this one. This tax seems to be very heavy handed, but there is an obesity/diabetes/fatty-liver disease epidemic in America and the over consumption of sugar is probably a major driver, if not the outright cause. The incidence of obesity and diabetes is so high it is absurd. Maybe this tax isn’t the most effective way of dealing with this problem, but something has to be done.

    No, something doesn’t. At least not by the government.

    Well, I’d be the first to admit that the American dietary guidelines over the past 50-odd years is one of the reasons why we’re in such a predicament.

    • #15
    • January 5, 2018 at 8:44 pm
    • 12 likes
  16. Member

    Hammer, The (View Comment):

    rico (View Comment):

    Hammer, The (View Comment):
    If you don’t want diabetes, eat more responsibly.

    The damage to health is much broader than merely diabetes. Off the top of my head I’d point to heart disease and Alzheimer’s Disease as two areas of concern.

    Yes, and if we’re talking about health, we should consider exercise as an even more important factor. Perhaps we should ban all television-watching after 5:00pm in order to encourage people to get out and exercise?

    I don’t have any problem with identifying the causes of harm, or even with those who have the urge to preach against those causes loudly (and less loudly when they’re shown to be wrong, but by then they’ve moved on to something else). It does not follow, however, that the government needs to get involved and force people to do things that someone in the government decides are good.

    Or – maybe it’s a quality of life issue. Let’s say that a person enjoys sugary soda so much that he considers diabetes to be a good trade-off? Isn’t that the sort of decision that people make every day? What right do I have – or does anyone have – to step in and say that people may no longer make those decisions for themselves? What if, for instance, I believe that life is not worth living if you do not believe in God – that your short existence would be meaningless without a solid faith? Should we make laws that you must join my religion in order to improve your quality of life? Surely your eternal soul is more important than the risk of diabetes, right?

    Quite a bit of hyperbole to wade through, so I’ll set it aside for now.

    This is simply a tax. The tax amounts to about 21¢ per can. Nobody is banning anything. People can still drink as much of their favorite sugary drink as they wish. The logic of this tax strikes me as similar to that of taxing alcohol or cigarettes. It may help reduce consumption on the margin, and that is a good thing.

    • #16
    • January 5, 2018 at 8:46 pm
    • 1 like
  17. Member

    Patrick McClure (View Comment):

    Black Prince (View Comment):

    rico (View Comment):

    Black Prince (View Comment):
    I’m between two minds on this one. This tax seems to be very heavy handed, but there is a obesity/diabetes/fatty-liver disease epidemic in America and the over consumption of sugar is a major contributing factor, if not the outright cause. The incidence of obesity and diabetes is ridiculously high in this county and something has to be done.

    Couldn’t agree more. Given the clear-cut health impact of Americans’ overconsumption of sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, soft drinks seem highly tax-worthy to me. As much as I hate agreeing with Seattle progressives, I think this tax has merit.

    I hate agreeing with progressives too, but I take some comfort in knowing that even a broken clock is right twice a day. To be honest, I think that the over-consumption of sugar is doing more harm to our country than illegal drugs.

    Yeah, prohibition works great.

    Well, prohibition clearly didn’t work, but would you be comfortable with legalizing all drugs? Maybe we would be better off if we did.

    • #17
    • January 5, 2018 at 8:46 pm
    • 1 like
  18. Member

    rico (View Comment):

    This is simply a tax. The tax amounts to about 21¢ per can. Nobody is banning anything. People can still drink as much of their favorite sugary drink as they wish. The logic of this tax strikes me as similar to that of taxing alcohol or cigarettes. It may help reduce consumption on the margin, and that is a good thing.

    Quite right…nothing is being banned.

    • #18
    • January 5, 2018 at 8:52 pm
    • Like
  19. Member

    And like the rise in the minimum wage, it is a law that will hurt the poor and not the rich. Typical for most progressive policy.

    • #19
    • January 5, 2018 at 8:57 pm
    • 8 likes
  20. Member

    Eustace C. Scrubb (View Comment):
    And like the rise in the minimum wage, it is a law that will hurt the poor and not the rich. Typical for most progressive policy.

    In America, the incidence of obesity and diabetes is higher in the poor than in the rich…and the poor are least able to afford the associated costs.

    • #20
    • January 5, 2018 at 9:07 pm
    • 1 like
  21. Thatcher

    I wrote about this over at RushBabe49.com. I’d love comments. I live in Everett, 20 miles north of Seattle.

    Stuck on Stupid in Seattle.

    • #21
    • January 5, 2018 at 9:15 pm
    • 7 likes
  22. Member

    Black Prince (View Comment):

    Eustace C. Scrubb (View Comment):
    And like the rise in the minimum wage, it is a law that will hurt the poor and not the rich. Typical for most progressive policy.

    In America, the incidence of obesity and diabetes is higher in the poor than in the rich…and the poor are least able to afford the associated costs.

    Good thing there are people to control their lived for them.

    • #22
    • January 5, 2018 at 9:20 pm
    • 12 likes
  23. Podcaster

    Black Prince: Maybe this tax isn’t the most effective way of dealing with this problem, but something has to be done.

    Why? Why must government do something to change the actions of a free people other than making sure they’re properly informed of the possible consequences of their actions?

    Politicians, activists, meddling busybodies all looking for a problem and a chance to do something and justify their own sorry existence. No, they don’t have to do anything.

    • #23
    • January 5, 2018 at 9:34 pm
    • 21 likes
  24. Member

    It’s a Sin Tax.

    Sinners!!

    • #24
    • January 5, 2018 at 10:01 pm
    • 12 likes
  25. Member

    Zafar (View Comment):
    It’s a Sin Tax.

    Sinners!!

    I prefer the term “Pigouvian Tax,” so you don’t have to get all moralistic about it. Not that it’s possible to avoid being moralistic about anything.

    • #25
    • January 5, 2018 at 10:13 pm
    • 3 likes
  26. Member

    Eustace C. Scrubb (View Comment):
    And like the rise in the minimum wage, it is a law that will hurt the poor and not the rich. Typical for most progressive policy.

    Actually, levying a tax on a consumer product has very little in common with requiring employers and employees to accept a government mandated minimum wage. And to the extent that people (rich or poor) consume less of these products, their health will benefit.

    It is true that this policy is pushed by progressives, but that doesn’t negate these facts.

    • #26
    • January 5, 2018 at 10:19 pm
    • 2 likes
  27. Member

    The Reticulator (View Comment):
    I prefer the term “Pigouvian Tax,” so you don’t have to get all moralistic about it…

    Hey, at least I’m not calling anyone a pig!

    • #27
    • January 5, 2018 at 10:22 pm
    • 3 likes
  28. Member

    This is what fascism looks like, trying to control others… by taxing what you find sinful behavior.

    • #28
    • January 5, 2018 at 10:32 pm
    • 5 likes
  29. Contributor

    rico (View Comment):
    The logic of this tax strikes me as similar to that of taxing alcohol or cigarettes. It may help reduce consumption on the margin, and that is a good thing.

    The logic of this argument cedes to the state the power to set prices to influence your behavior. Not to go all paleo on the matter, but I can’t find the relevant clause in the Constitution.

    • #29
    • January 5, 2018 at 10:41 pm
    • 38 likes
  30. Member

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    rico (View Comment):
    The logic of this tax strikes me as similar to that of taxing alcohol or cigarettes. It may help reduce consumption on the margin, and that is a good thing.

    The logic of this argument cedes to the state the power to set prices to influence your behavior. Not to go all paleo on the matter, but I can’t find the relevant clause in the Constitution.

    We’ve had taxes to influence your behavior since Alexander Hamilton. Not that he was Mr. Limited Government or Mr. Strict Interpretation of the Constitution. But he wanted (and got) a tax on imports in 1790 to influence Americans to buy domestic goods rather than imported goods, and to encourage the development of home-grown industries.

    • #30
    • January 5, 2018 at 10:47 pm
    • 2 likes
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