251758 Taxing Sugar-Sweetened Beverages: Building Support in New York City

Tuesday, November 1, 2011: 8:40 AM

Andrew Goodman, MD, MPH , Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, NYC Health Department, Long Island City, NY
Obesity and diabetes are major health problems in New York City. Considerable evidence suggests that sugar-sweetened beverages are the single most important contributor to the excess caloric intake that is driving the obesity and diabetes epidemics. A sugar-sweetened beverage tax has been proposed as one strategy that would reduce consumption as well as increase revenues for obesity prevention programs. In New York State in 2010, the governor proposed a penny per ounce excise tax on all sugar-sweetened beverages, a proposal that was not approved by the legislature.

During the campaign to harness support for the governor's proposed tax, proponents encountered several obstacles: limited public awareness of the adverse health impact of sugar-sweetened beverages, skepticism about the effectiveness of such a tax, concerns around regressive taxation policies, and the perceived lack of alternative beverages. To address these concerns and raise awareness about the obesity epidemic, contributing factors and possible interventions, the New York City Health Department conducted an outreach campaign, primarily directed at community-based organizations, community leaders and elected officials. A toolkit with educational materials was developed to standardize messages and presentations provided by Health Department staff. Community-based outreach was complemented by a citywide media campaign.

In this session, we will discuss efforts in New York State to implement a sugar-sweetened beverage tax and our experience along with that of Seattle, Philadelphia and Vermont in conducting outreach about the health effects of sugary drinks and policies to reduce consumption.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Describe approaches to educating and informing community members and elected officials about the obesity epidemic, contributing factors and interventions.

Keywords: Obesity, Policy/Policy Development

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I oversee chronic disease prevention programs
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.