How Mexico took on the soda industry and won, passing a soda tax: An interview with Tina Rosenberg, New York Times and Solutions Journalism Network – Episode #106

tina_rosenbergMexico consumes a lot of soda and its soda industry (particularly Coca-Cola) is very powerful. Even so, in 2013, Mexico’s congress was able to successfully pass a nationwide one-peso-per-litre (about 10%) tax on sugary drinks, over the opposition of the soda industry. How did it happen?

To gain insights, we’re joined by Tina Rosenberg (@tirosenberg), a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist. Her recent article in The Guardian is titled, “How one of the most obese countries on earth took on the soda giants.” She is the author of the “Fixes” column in the New York Times and also a co-founder of the Solutions Journalism Network.

As Tina Rosenberg explains, there were several factors that helped pass the soda tax. One was a smart media campaign by the Nutritional Health Alliance in Mexico to raise awareness about the impact of soda. As example ad, at right, is titled “12 spoonfuls.” It asks: “Would you give them 12 teaspoons of sugar? Then why give them soda?”

This is the first interview in our two-part series about Mexico’s soda tax. In part two, I speak with Professor Barry Popkin of UNC on the estimated first year impacts of the tax.