Opinion: Soda taxes work. We should have more of them.

Soft drinks and soda bottles are displayed in a refrigerator at a market in San Francisco on Sept. 21. Next month, voters in San Francisco and Oakland will consider levying a penny per ounce tax on sugar laden drinks.
(Jeff Chiu / Associated Press)

To the editor: It’s a shame The Times reports only some of the data from the recently published American Journal of Public Health article entitled, “Impact of the Berkeley Excise Tax on Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption.” (“Ensuring access to safe drinking water ought to come before a push for soda taxes,” Oct. 21)

The Times correctly notes that consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages did substantially drop in Berkeley after the passage of the excise tax. After that, however, The Times promulgates the Big Soda myth that people will drive to neighboring communities to avoid paying the tax, while in fact, the article showed that sugar-sweetened beverage consumption did not significantly change in the neighboring comparison cities.

The Times also speculates that the decreased consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages might lead to increase consumption of other sweets, while neglecting to note that the article found that water consumption increased after the passage of the excise tax. Reporting the complete data will lead the reader to conclude that taxing sugar-sweetened beverages is an effective way to reduce their consumption and lead to improved health.


Theodore C. Friedman, MD, Los Angeles

Follow the Opinion section on Twitter @latimesopinion and Facebook