Public in Favor of Soda “Fee” to Cover Health Programs
In an April 2012 survey, 62% of California voters supported a “special fee” on soda and soft drinks to fight obesity among children. The survey was conducted by Field Research Corporation on behalf of the California Endowment.
Both Field and Harris are respected polling companies. So, who’s right?
Depends on who you ask. Or, more precisely, how you ask. The California survey: “Do you support or oppose having the state put a special fee on the sale of soda and soft drinks and use the money to fight obesity among children?” In the Harris poll, respondents were asked if they support or oppose “Putting a new tax on soft drinks with high sugar content.”
One obvious difference: the term “special fee” in the California poll and “new tax” in the Harris poll.
Another is that the California poll proposes revenue to be used to fight childhood obesity. While the Center for Consumer Freedom admits that addressing childhood obesity increases support for a soda tax, they argue the government can’t be trusted to follow through on this, citing that only 2% of tobacco settlement monies have been used to fund tobacco cessation.
Other results from the Field poll in California show that 94% of respondents said obesity among children and teens is a very or somewhat serious problem. When asked what poses the greatest health risk to kids, almost half said either unhealthy eating habits (28%) or lack of physical activity (20%).
Note to advocates, or anyone interested in passing soda tax legislation:
1. Seemingly minor details in wording can make a difference.
2. People want their excise taxes to address the issue at hand. In the case of Oregon, connecting a soda tax to Farm to School programs, or school-based physical education programs can make for solid, and popular, public health policy.
Combine solid wording with sound policy and a misguided poll can be turned upside-down, making the difference between real policy and policy merely considered.