Study: Soda Tax Support Low Overall; Higher Among Millennials, College Grads, Democrats

Sarah Gilbert/FlickrSarah Gilbert/Flickr

A new study published in the journal Preventive Medicine finds predictably low support for soda taxes or soda size restrictions among Americans. Less than a quarter (22 percent) of U.S. adults favor soda taxes and just over a quarter (26 percent) favor portion size restrictions.

"Examining several determinants of support simultaneously, Democrats and those with negative views of soda companies are more likely to support these policies," states the study, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Healthy Eating Research program. That's unsurprising. But more surprising—or at least disappointing—is that millennials overall also showed greater support for sugary drink taxes. 

For the study, researchers surveyed a nationally-representative sample of 18- to 64-year-olds on a several public health policy proposals. They found greater public support for adding front-of-package nutrition labels to sugary drinks (65 percent), barring soda and sugary drink sales from public schools (62 percent), and prohibiting advertisements for sugary drinks to air during children's TV programming (50 percent).

"I think these findings reflect public enthusiasm for regulation that maintains a value on consumer choice in the marketplace rather than government intervention," said lead author Sarah Gollust, a professor at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. But they show tolerance for "more paternalism in restricting the choices available to children," she noted. 

Interestingly, parents of children under 18 showed similar levels of support for school beverage bans as those without younger children. The study also found similar attitudes among overweight/obese individuals and those classified as normal weight.

But differences emerged when age, gender, income, and education level came into play. College-educated adults were more likely to support most of the proposed policies, with the exception of soda size restrictions and requiring TV stations to provide free air time for health propaganda (a measure supported by a disturbing 51 percent of all respondents). 

Women overall were more in favor of sugary drink size restrictions and restricting soda advertising to children. Support didn't generally differ among age groups, except that 18- to 29-year-olds were 57 percent more likely to support soda taxes than older respondents. Those with higher incomes were the least likely to support such taxes. 

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  • sarcasmic||

    Most people acknowledge that making soft drinks more expensive through taxation will result in people buying less of it, yet when you ask these very same people what happens when you raise the price of young and unskilled labor (minimum wage) they absolutely refuse to acknowledge that employers will buy less of it.

    I don't get it.

  • BardMetal||

    Because people who buy soda are poor, but employers all have infinite wealth which they greedily horde in their McDuckian sized money vaults.

    Plus they all look and dress like the guy on the monopoly board.

  • Tony||

    How are people not like soft drinks... Oh, you're a libertarian. There is do difference.

  • sarcasmic||

    Expenses are expenses, and unlike governments, businesses must balance the budget.

    Oh, you're an ignoramus. You wouldn't understand.

  • Certified Public Asskicker||

    He also supports high taxes on income, because that also has no effect on how income is produced or reported.

  • Tony||

    Soft drinks do not take the extra money spent on them and go buy stuff.

  • UnCivilServant||

    But the makers of the soft drinks do.

  • UnCivilServant||

    *unless you're talking tax, then that extra money is just pissed away in a gutter somewhere by a drunk political appointee.

  • Tony||

    Still waiting for those Bush tax cuts to pay for themselves.

  • LiveFreeOrDiet||

    I'm still waiting for the Bush spending cuts.

  • LiveFreeOrDiet||

    And the Obama spending cuts.

  • sarcasmic||

    Where did that extra money come from?

  • Tony||

    Out of the pockets of employers. Now you point out the evidence that shows that having a minimum wage always correlates with high unemployment.

  • sarcasmic||

    Out of the pockets of employers.

    Wrong. Labor is a business expense. When government forces the price of labor up, then businesses find a way to cut costs. Often by hiring fewer employees.

    Now you point out the evidence that shows that having a minimum wage always correlates with high unemployment.

    Minimum wage results in higher unemployment for young and unskilled workers. Since that is a relatively small segment of the workforce, then high unemployment for those workers will not significantly affect overall unemployment.
    So it would be better to look at something like youth unemployment, which is double the average for everyone as a whole (16% vs 8%).
    Want more evidence? Go to Burger King. See that self-serve drink machine? Some kid used to get paid minimum wage to do that.

  • LiveFreeOrDiet||

    Jeez Tony, really? Have you looked at US unemployment rates, especially for black teens? Low productivity people who live in expensive places aren't worth hiring.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "How are people not like soft drinks..."

    Somebody help me out here...

    Is Tony really saying that because soft drinks aren't people, it's okay to ban them since they don't have any rights?!

  • sarcasmic||

    He's saying that he is willfully ignorant and loving it.

  • Warren's Strapon||

    He is incapable of understanding. You'd be better off explaining quantum theory to your goldfish.

  • LiveFreeOrDiet||

    He's capable of understanding; it simply isn't his motivation or goal. He wants to cause confusion, wasting your time and energy. Why else would he (with faux solemnity) propose the creation of a method to convert virtual currency into a government welfare program?

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Soft drinks do not take the extra money spent on them and go buy stuff."

    Yeah, he's saying that soft drinks are people!

  • Ken Shultz||

    Yeah, he's saying that soft drinks [aren't] people!

    You knew what I meant.

  • lap83||

    People make soft drinks. Oh, you're a progressive. You think government made everything.

  • Jordan||

    Labor is a commodity just like soft drinks.

  • Tony||

    That's the point. Labor is not "just like" other commodities.

    That libertarians treat human beings as nothing more than cogs in the market machine is why you are wrong about everything.

  • LiveFreeOrDiet||

    Treating people with respect means paying them for their productiveness. The only alternative is treating them like slaves.

  • kbolino||

    That libertarians treat human beings as nothing more than cogs in the market machine is why you are wrong about everything.

    If somebody argued a nuanced position with you, they'd be wrong because they're overcomplicating things.

    Make up your fucking mind.

  • ||

    Labor is not "just like" other commodities.

    Right, it's totally different, because reasons. Or rather, because feels.

  • LynchPin1477||

    negative views of soda companies

    OK, so what terrible social crime did the soda companies commit? Or is this just a general dislike of corporations and profits?

  • sarcasmic||

    yes

  • Trollo||

    Asa Candler joined with William Randolph Hearst and the DuPont family in buying the New Deal Congress forcing FDR to sign the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Or is this just a general dislike of corporations and profits?"

    Honestly, progressives just like the idea of imposing themselves on people. Violating people's rights to make choices for themselves makes them horny.

    I think it's as simple as that.

    I think it's mostly progressives trying to impose themselves on what they see as a stereotype of Midwestern and Southern America.

    It comes from the same place as the people in San Francisco, who were banning Happy Meals. They don't give a damn about childhood obesity; they just want to lash out at a perceived demographic that they hate.

    It's like people on the opposite side of the spectrum lashing out at "welfare queens" or illegal aliens. Progressives hate the whiter shades of our underclass. They've built a giant straw man out of them, and they use it to whip their follower into a frenzy.

  • sarcasmic||

    Progressives define freedom as forcing their will onto others.

    They absolutely despise the concept of liberty (being free from force unless you use force first) and would wipe it from the dictionary if they could.

  • Ken Shultz||

    They're kind of playing into our hands, too.

    I'd love it if the central dispute between Democrats and Republicans were questions of free choice, and that's what the progressives are turning our politics into.

    I was talking about this with someone in another thread last week. He was talking about Republican types he meets who have started to identify as "Libertarian", even though they know nothing about libertarianism. They just know that progressives hate libertarians, so that's what they want to be!

    When average people start thinking of libertarianism as the idea that people should be free to make choices for themselves, that's when we start winning. And that is why progressives hate libertarians--because we're about free choice, and that's why progs want to do things like restrict soft drink...

    Because their whole spiel is really about using the coercive power of government to force individuals to make sacrifices of their freedom of choice, supposedly, for the greater good. That's why they get all horny when someone uses the government to force fat people to stop drinking sugary soda.

    That's why they get all horny about things like the individual mandate, too.

    It's all about their prime directive. A society where people are only free to do things that are in everyone else's interests is not a free society, and they know it, and that's the kind of society they want--a society where people are only free to do things that are in everyone else's best interests.

  • sarcasmic||

    To many on the left, that post of yours would be very confusing since they equate the word "choice" with "abortion."

  • Ken Shultz||

    I guess the issue for them does boil down to whether you have to take the fetus' interests into consideration.

    I thought we were supposed to care about all the stakeholders!

  • sarcasmic||

    The left doesn't like the idea of free choice. They wan to be free from responsibility. When the government tells you what to do, then you aren't exercising free choice. You're obeying. Thus you are not responsible.

    This is why they use "choice" and "abortion" interchangeably. Because they would prefer to be free from making choices. Well, all choices except killing unborn children. But that's the only choice they want people to be allowed to make.

  • GILMORE||

    "They just know that progressives hate libertarians, so that's what they want to be!"

    You gotta start somewhere.

  • Warren's Strapon||

    Fat people and diabetes, therefore soda tax. It's a perfectly cromulent idea.

  • LiveFreeOrDiet||

    How about not lying to fat people and diabetics so they can give up sodas or die knowing what killed them?
    But no, the government decided 30-ish years ago eating fat was the big dietary evil and they're sticking to it.

  • Trollo||

    Women overall were more in favor of sugary drink size restrictions and restricting soda advertising to children. Support didn't generally differ among age groups, except that 18- to 29-year-olds were 57 percent more likely to support soda taxes than older respondents.

    Clearly, we need to raise the voting age to 30 and require tests for literacy and y chromosomes.

  • lap83||

    Or you could do as my mom did and not buy soda for your children. Naaah, too hard.

  • JWatts||

    Well, to a liberal that's the perfect solution. Just substitute the phrase "our government" for "my mom" and you've got it down pat.

  • LynchPin1477||

    I think these findings reflect public enthusiasm for regulation that maintains a value on consumer choice in the marketplace rather than government intervention

    Because a ban on advertising totally doesn't involve government intervention. Fail.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Less than a quarter (22 percent) of U.S. adults favor soda taxes and just over a quarter (26 percent) favor portion size restrictions."

    They're all a bunch of fat slobs, who care more about their money than their health. They should all be arrested and legally compelled to eat broccoli, buy health insurance, renounce their religious convictions, and learn to live by my rules instead of being selfish. ...the stupid racist hillbillies.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTAIedFfUBU

  • VG Zaytsev||

    But differences emerged when age, gender, income, and education level came into play. College-educated adults were more likely to support most of the proposed policies,

    Evidence that higher education, today, makes people dumber.

  • John||

    Higher among college grads. If that is not an indictment of the American University system, nothing is.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Yeah but what are the numbers supporting pop taxes or pop size restrictions?

  • Elizabeth Nolan Brown||

    As an Ohioan, I appreciate this. I had to train myself to stop saying 'pop' when I moved to the East coast.

  • sarcasmic||

    I grew up watching Shasta commercials. I too had to train myself to stop saying 'pop' when I moved to the East coast.

  • ||

    Wait. Only assholes call pop "soda". You intentionally speak incorrectly because of peer pressure?!? How do you live with yourself, Elizabeth?

  • sarcasmic||

    As someone for a "pop" on the East coast and they might punch you in the mouth.

  • LiveFreeOrDiet||

    As someone for a "pop" on the East coast and they might punch you in the mouth.

    I thought it was what happened at the end of sex.

  • lap83||

    I have to agree with the asshole thing. When I moved to a new region with people who called it soda this conversation was normal.

    "I'll have a pop"

    "Oh, you mean soda?" (translation: I obviously knew what you meant but I'm a douche and feel the need to "correct" you)

    Conversely, if you go to a place that typically says pop and you ask for a soda they'll just give it to you because they're not assholes.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    I always ask for Dr. Pepper. Because every fucking place these days only has Pepsi, because they apparently have the cheapest contracts in the permanently broke restaurant business. As the "independent" brand, Dr. Pepper is supposed to be found in both Coca-Cola and Pepsi supplied places. But some don't even have that. Fucking cheapskates.

  • LiveFreeOrDiet||

    I get tea or water because I don't care to start trudging back toward 400 pounds.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Back in Ye Olden Tymes, I used to go to a soda fountain which served hand crafted sweet fizzy drinks in glasses of about 7 oz. If you ordered several in succession, the wise old gentleman behind the counter would admonish, "Don't you think you've had enough?"

    How could the all-knowing, all-powerful Government Gods allow ruthless profiteering job destroyers to wipe out that quaint sliver of American Exceptionalism?

  • The Late P Brooks||

    I had to train myself to stop saying 'pop' when I moved to the East coast.

    "Pop" refers to psychology or art, not canned beverages.

  • sarcasmic||

    Order a soda on the West coast and you'll get soda water.

  • UnCivilServant||

    Why would anyone be on the west coast?

    There's no sane people there.

  • sarcasmic||

    I was born there. Not like I had much of a choice.

  • ||

    As opposed to the sane east?

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Pop" is the kind of music made by Katy Perry.

  • sarcasmic||

    My daughter was listening to 'Last Friday Night' by Katy Perry over the weekend and I ended up learning the guitar riff to make her laugh.

    Needless to say, I didn't have a lot to do that day.

  • Warren's Strapon||

    Oh please. It couldn't have taken that much time, unless it was "Katy Perry featuring Dream Theater" or something.

  • sarcasmic||

    Did I say it took a lot of time?

  • pan fried wylie||

    paternalism in restricting the choices available to children

    Aka Parenting.

  • ||

    It takes a village 5 trillion dollar army of federal bureaucrats backed by SWAT teams to raise a child.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Soft drinks do not take the extra money spent on them and go buy stuff.

    Dizzying intellect is dizzying.

  • sarcasmic||

    Like a whirling dervish.

  • Swiss Servator, mehr Sprüngli||

    All elbows and fists...

  • GILMORE||

    "But more surprising—or at least disappointing—is that millennials overall also showed greater support for sugary drink taxes. "

    Who here is surprised?

    Is it 'surprising' to anyone that millennials are overall far more economically ignorant and statist than their predecessors? They demonstrate it constantly. When is it going to stop 'surprising' people?

  • Mickey Rat||

    Gillespie maybe? He keeps going on about the youth being more independent and liberty minded, but there are not many issues where that actually is the case. This kind of throws a monkey wrench into that thinking.

  • ||

    This. Was going to say the same thing. This is only surprising news to abject morons who have spent the last 4 years hocking a book centering around millennials ushering in a grand libertopia, because pot and gay marriage.

  • Winston||

    Gillespie seems to think that once the shit hits the fan the yutes will give up their statist attitudes and vote for libertarians rather than supporting a Strong Man Who Will Get Things Done.

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