Wednesday, 2 February 2022

Swapping fizzy drinks for beer

Impact of the Seattle Sweetened Beverage Tax on substitution to alcoholic beverages


Taxes are increasingly used as a policy tool aimed at reducing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), given their association with adverse health outcomes including type 2 diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease. However, a potential unintended consequence of such a policy could be that the tax induces substitution to alcoholic beverages.

Indeed. Studies have found some evidence of this in the past.


At two-years post-tax implementation, volume sold of beer in Seattle relative to Portland increased by 7% (ratio of incidence rate ratios [RIRR] = 1.07, 95% CI:1.00,1.15), whereas volume sold of wine decreased by 3% (RIRR = 0.97, 95% CI:0.95,1.00). Overall alcohol (both beer and wine) volume sold increased in Seattle compared to Portland by 4% (RIRR = 1.04, 95% CI:1.01,1.07) at one-year post-tax and by 5% (RIRR = 1.05, 95% CI:1.00,1.10) at two-years post-tax. The implied SSB cross-price elasticities of demand for beer and wine, respectively, were calculated to be 0.35 and -0.15.

Well played, people of Seattle. Well played.

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