Nouvelles des membres du Réseau Conditions influencing the adoption of a soda tax for public health: Analysis of the French case (2005–2012)


Une publication de Y. Le Bodo, F. Etilé, F. Gagnon (responsable de l’axe Politiques publiques et santé des populations du RRSPQ) et P. De Wals, dans Food Policy 88 (2019) 101765. Accessible en ligne

Résumé des auteurs

"Although over 40 jurisdictions have adopted a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) for public health worldwide, it is still debated in many places. Policy processes can influence the prospect of an SSB tax, its design and its public health benefits. To get an insight into such processes, we undertook a case study of the soda tax enacted in France on the 1st of January 2012. Newspaper articles (2003–2013) and institutional documents (2007–2012) were identified using keywords and search engines. Qualitative data extraction and analyses were performed on a thematic and chronological basis, with guidance from Kingdon’s multiple streams theory (MST). Triangulation was enhanced by using complementary sources.

This study shows that in August 2011, the French government surprisingly announced a €3.58 cent/L excise tax on SSBs, excluding juices with no added sugars and non-calorically sweetened beverages (NCSBs). As part of a large budgetary plan, the proposal aimed to reduce SSB consumption and raise revenue that was earmarked for health care. Several conditions contributed to opening a policy window: The announcement occurred in the context of severe budgetary deficits; soda tax scenarios had already been discussed at a high level; and the bill was supported by convinced political leaders. Subsequently, the tax successfully passed through the legislative process due to a series of unexpected events, but its public health rationale and design were weakened. The first event was the disorganised reaction by the food industry, despite their sharp opposition to the tax. The next event was the support of the soda tax that came from a majority of Deputies, provided that the revenues would serve another purpose: relieving wage costs in the farming sector. Finally, policy entrepreneurs favoured a compromise to make the tax politically acceptable and legally viable: The tax rate doubled, the scope was extended to NCSBs and revenues were split between health care and agriculture. This study sheds light on influence factors that could be taken into account by public health actors willing to influence soda tax policy processes."