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Missed Opportunities: The Need to Promote Public Knowledge and Awareness of Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Taxes.

  • Author(s): Altman, Emily A;
  • Madsen, Kristine A;
  • Schmidt, Laura A
  • et al.
Abstract

Despite a growing body of evidence showing that sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) taxes nudge consumers away from SSBs, we lack an understanding of people's awareness and perceptions of SSB taxes and whether tax awareness and perceptions differ based on sociodemographic characteristics. We used serial cross-sectional study intercept surveys (n = 2715) in demographically diverse neighborhoods of Berkeley and Oakland in 2015 and 2017, and San Francisco and Richmond in 2017. In the year following successful SSB tax ballot measures, 45% of respondents correctly recalled that an SSB tax had passed in their city. In untaxed cities, 14% of respondents incorrectly thought that a tax had passed. Perceived benefits of SSB taxes to the community and to children's health were moderate and, like correct recall of an SSB tax, were higher among respondents with higher education levels. Awareness of SSB taxes was low overall, and perceptions about taxes' benefits varied by educational attainment, reflecting a missed opportunity to educate citizens about how SSB taxes work and their importance. Public health efforts should invest in campaigns that explain the benefits of SSB taxes and provide information about how tax revenues will be invested, both before and after a tax proposal has passed.

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