Philadelphia's Soda Tax Moves Closer to Reality with Second Council Vote

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Philadelphia may soon become the largest U.S. city to charge a soda tax aimed at curbing consumption of the sugary soft drinks.

The Philadelphia City Council confirmed last week that it would support a 1.5 cents per ounce soda tax. It now goes to a second city vote later this week before it passes into law.

Sodas and other sugary beverages have been linked to the nation’s rising obesity and diabetes epidemics particularly affecting children and low-income communities.

If passed, the soda tax would also apply to diet sodas, which, despite the lack of sugars, have been linked to numerous health issues including metabolic disorders that may lead to weight gain.

“Philadelphia’s decision to tax unhealthy beverages to fund early child education is a milestone,” Public Health Advocates Executive Director and California soda tax advocate Harold Goldstein told Forbes. “It gives permission to every city in the country to start thinking about what they would like funded by a soda tax.”

As expected, the proposed tax faces fierce opposition from the soda industry. The American Beverage Association spent more than $4 million in advertising against the proposed tax. It fiercely opposed New York City’s former mayor Michael Bloomberg attempted to ban the sale of oversized sodas, filing a lawsuit to overturn the ban. Philadelphia’s pro-tax campaign received financial support from Bloomberg.

Berkeley, Calif., became the first U.S. city to successfully implement a tax on sodas last year. Similar to Berkeley’s tax, the city of Philadelphia would use the revenues—an estimated $91 million per year—in education programs and community improvements.

If passed, the soda tax would be yet another blow to the panicked soda industry. Category sales recently hit the lowest numbers in three decades as consumers are opting for healthier drink choices.

Other U.S. cities have been considering soda taxes as well, including San Francisco, Oakland and Boulder, Colo.

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Soda image via Shutterstock

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