Soda Tax

The fifth largest city in US passed a significant soda tax proposal that will levy (征税)1.5 cents per liquid ounce on distributors.

Philadelphil’s new measure was approved by a 13 to 4 city council vote. It sets a new bar for similar initiatives across the country. It is proof that taxes on sugary drinks can win substantial support outside super-liberal areas. Until now, the only city to successfully pass and implement a soda tax was Berkeley, California, in 2014.

The tax will apply to regular and diet sodas, as well as other drinks with adder sugar, such as Gatorade and iced teas. It’s expected to raise $410 million over the next five years, most of which will go toward funding a universal pre-kindergarten program for the city.

While the city council vote was met with applause inside the council room, opponents to the measure, including soda lobbyists, made sharp criticisms and a promise to challenge the tax in court.

“The tax passed today unfairly singles out beverages — including low —and no-calorie choices,” said Lauren Kane, spokeswoman for the American Beverage Association. “But most importantly, it is against the law. So we will side with the majority of the people of Philadelphia who oppose this tax and take legal action to stop it.”

An industry-backed anti-tax campaign has spent at least $4 million on advertisements. The ads criticized the measure, characterizing it as a “grocery tax”.

Public health groups applauded the approved tax as step toward fixing certain lasting health issues that plague Americans. “The move to recapture a small part of the profits from an industry that pushed a product that contributes to diabetes, obesity and heart disease in poorer communities in order to reinvest in those communities will sure be inspirational to many other places,” said Jim Krieger, executive director of Healthy Food America. “indeed, we are already hearing from some of them. It’s not ‘just Berkeley’ anymore.”

Similar measures in California’s Albany, Oakland, San Francisco and Colorado’s Boulder are becoming hot-button issues. Health advocacy groups have hinted that even more might be coming.