Upon amending the soda tax proposal, a City Counsel committee voted Wednesday and approved a 1.5 cent-per-ounce tax on sugary and diet drinks. The proposal will go through a final vote on June 16th, and if approved Philadelphia will be the first major city to tax sugary drinks.
Applying a 1.5 cent-per-ounce tax would help discourage people from drinking soda which could help reduce risk of obesity. The tax would also generate an estimated $91 million to fund expanded prekindergarten, establish community schools with social-service hubs, and fix up parks and recreation centers.
Over 30 cities and states have failed to implement soda tax proposals over the past decade. Currently Berkeley, California is the only U.S. city to approve a 1 cent-per-ounce soda tax which went into effect in 2014. Their population of 112,000 compared to 1.5 million people in Philadelphia means passing a soda tax in our city would be historic. Many other cities are expected to follow should the proposal get approved.
The American Beverage Association has been lobbying and spending millions of dollars campaigning against the tax. The group insists taxing sugary drinks would hurt small businesses, reduce jobs, and hurt lower-income families who tend to drink more soda than higher-income families.
Politicians have also weighed in on the issue. Hillary Clinton supports the soda tax “I’m very supportive of the mayor’s proposal to tax soda to get universal preschool for kids” “I mean we need universal preschool. And if that’s a way to do it, that’s how we should do it.” Bernie Sanders opposes the tax stating “A tax on soda and juice drinks would disproportionately increase taxes on low-income families in Philadelphia.”
Stay tuned for voting results on June 16th to see whether the soda tax proposal becomes approved, and when it will take effect in Philadelphia.