MEXICO CITY—This week, Tabasco followed Oaxaca in banning the sale of sugar-sweetened drinks and highly processed foods to minors under the age of 18, citing obesity risk factors for COVID-19, the Washington Post reports. Similar measures are on the docket in at least 10 other Mexican states and in Mexico City.
While legislators haven’t ironed out the details for the Tabasco ban, Oaxaca’s new law nixes the sale of chips, soda, candy and sugar-sweetened beverages to children under the age of 18. In addition to the new sugar laws, Mexico’s new national label law will go into effect in October. This law mandates black stop signs on food packages high in added sugar, calories, saturated fats and added sodium, and those products are not allowed to be sold or marketed in schools.
Proponents of the law include the World Health Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and UNICEF, citing the effect the products may have on one’s health, though opponents question whether or not the laws will actually fulfill the purpose of dissuading ingestion.
Soda taxes have been implemented over the years in the United States, both on a national and local level. As reported in NACS Magazine, Philadelphia passed a sweeping beverage tax that was enacted in January 2017, with the goal of funding education within the city with the tax revenue. However, the tax goal was not met.
When the Pennsylvania Senate called a hearing to examine why this was the case, Grocer Jeffrey Brown of Brown’s Super Stores went on record stating, “We know that shoppers are going outside the city to buy their beverages, and they are taking all their grocery dollars with them.” The result was the decrease in tax revenue and a decrease in labor at stores.
More recently, Alex Baloga, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association wrote in the Philadelphia Business Journal on the soda tax. “The levy affects retailers large and small—from national supermarket chains to small, family-owned convenience stores. More than 1,200 jobs have been lost. A West Philadelphia ShopRite closed in March 2019 due to the tax. In short, Philadelphia’s beverage tax has been an economic disaster,” he said.
Mexico began taxing sugary drinks in 2014 with mixed results. Chile and France also have a tax on sodas, as well as Berkeley, Calif., and Seattle.