Getting sugar back? Soda taxes beyond sodas

37 Pages Posted: 18 Mar 2021 Last revised: 10 Aug 2021

See all articles by Felipe Lozano-Rojas

Felipe Lozano-Rojas

University of Georgia; Indiana University Bloomington - School of Public & Environmental Affairs (SPEA)

Patrick Carlin

Indiana University

Date Written: July 19, 2021


Soda taxes are being implemented in several cities across the US with the aim of reducing sugar intake from sugar sweetened beverages (SSBs). Sugar is linked to obesity and to higher risk of diabetes and cardiovascular conditions, and sodas as the main source are targeted with these taxes. In presence of potential substitutes, the policy can be undermined by consumers changing their sources of sugar. We examine the heterogeneous effects of the Philadelphia soda tax on purchases of other foods considered traditional sources of sugar.

The tax was introduced in 2017, following Berkeley, which implemented its own in 2015.We present the first empirical evaluation article focusing on the potential substitution to-wards additional sugary foods listed as the main sources of sugar intake by the American Heart Association. We compare the consumption of SSB and sugary foods prior to and following the 2017 SSB tax in Philadelphia as well as in the comparable localities. We find an uptake in sugar consumption from sweetened foods of about 3.5% following the introduction of the tax. While this seems small, once compared to the change in sugar intake from beverages, the substitution offsets between 15% to 27% of the total effect of the policy.

Keywords: Soda Taxes, Taxation and Behavior, Local Governments, Health Policy

JEL Classification: H21, H22,H23, H71,H75,I12, I14, I18

Suggested Citation

Lozano-Rojas, Felipe and Carlin, Patrick, Getting sugar back? Soda taxes beyond sodas (July 19, 2021). Available at SSRN: or

Felipe Lozano-Rojas (Contact Author)

University of Georgia ( email )

Baldwin Hall, 355 S Jackson St
Athens, GA 30602
United States
812 9296717 (Phone)


Indiana University Bloomington - School of Public & Environmental Affairs (SPEA) ( email )

1315 East Tenth Street
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States

Patrick Carlin

Indiana University

107 S Indiana Ave
100 South Woodlawn
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics