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State Sales Tax Rates for Soft Drinks and Snacks Sold Through Grocery Stores and Vending Machines, 2007

Chriqui JF, Eidson S, Bates H, Kowalczyk S, Chaloupka FJ. Journal of Public Health Policy, 29: 226-249, 2008.

Junk food consumption is associated with rising obesity rates in the United States. While a ‘‘junk food’’ specific tax is a potential public health intervention, a majority of states already impose sales taxes on certain junk food and soft drinks. This study reviews the state sales tax variance for soft drinks and selected snack products sold through grocery stores and vending machines as of January 2007. Sales taxes vary by state, intended retail location (grocery store vs. vending machine), and product. Vended snacks and soft drinks are taxed at a higher rate than grocery items and other food products, generally, indicative of a ‘‘disfavored’’ tax status attributed to vended items. Soft drinks, candy, and gum are taxed at higher rates than are other items examined. Similar tax schemes in other countries and the potential implications of these findings relative to the relationship between price and consumption are discussed.

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