Frequently Asked Questions
How will it work?
Distributors of beverages will pay a tax of 1.5 cents per ounce on sugary drinks including soda, sports drinks, energy drinks, sweetened teas and other beverages that have added caloric sweeteners. It does not affect infant formula, milk products or natural fruit and vegetable juices. The tax will not be charged to retailers.
Who is the opposition?
The big soda industry has spent millions to defeat similar measures in other cities and protect their profits. In Multnomah County, the American Beverage Association, which represents big soda, is the main backer behind the opposition campaign.
Where will the money go?
Half of the revenue will go toward expanding access to quality preschool programs for thousands of children in our community. The remaining funds will be invested in programs that promote literacy, physical activity and healthy eating habits for kids.
I’ve heard this is a regressive tax on low-income people. Is that true?
This is big soda’s attempt to distract us from the real regressive cost: the life-threatening conditions caused by sugary drinks. People in low-income communities and communities of color consume higher amounts of soda, and as a result suffer higher rates of diabetes, heart disease and other health problems. These harmful conditions—and the massive medical bills that accompany them—are what’s really regressive.
If we’re serious about addressing these deadly epidemics, we need to start with the biggest culprits and go where the science leads us, and that’s right to sugary drinks.
Won’t the tax hurt Multnomah County businesses?
No. Research shows that people switch to healthier beverage options, resulting in no loss in sales for local businesses. In Berkeley, California—the first U.S. city to enact a sugary drink tax—sales of soda and other taxed products dropped by nearly 10 percent in the first year, while sales of water, milk, fruit and vegetable juices, and untaxed tea increased. The results: healthier people and stability for local stores.