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Abstract

We examine how soda sales changed due to the campaign attention and election out- come of a local excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB), most commonly referred to as a soda tax. Using panel data of beverage sales from university retailers in Berkeley, California, we estimate that soda purchases relative to control beverages significantly dropped immediately after the election, months before the tax was implemented in the city of Berkeley or on campus. Supplemental scanner data from off campus drug stores reveal this result is not unique to the university setting. Our findings suggest soda tax media coverage and election outcomes can have larger effects on purchasing behavior than the tax itself.

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