Vox Compares SSB Taxes to Corner Store Initiatives
Vox Media’s podcast The Impact has examined New York City’s and Chicago’s approaches to combating obesity, including Chicago’s imposition of a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs). A reporter first speaks to employees of an initiative in New York that encourages corner-store owners to stock more healthy foods, and she finds that the results have been middling. The podcast then turns to Chicago’s tax on SSBs, which was enforced for two months before it was repealed. “The Cook County soda tax became so toxic that nobody wants to talk about it anymore,” the reporter reveals. “This was by far the hardest episode of our season to report because people kept turning down my interview requests. I asked six different county commissioners to talk to me for this story. Five of them said no.”
“Right now, there isn’t great evidence that healthy corner store initiatives have a big impact on obesity. There’s better evidence that soda taxes could make a big difference. But healthy corner store initiatives are very palatable—they are a brand new benefit for constituents. Soda taxes are way harder to swallow; they draw a lot of political controversy,” the episode concludes.