Philadelphia Passes Soda Tax: Raised Prices May Curb Obesity, Health Issues While Improving Education

The City of Philadelphia has passed a soda tax, making it the first major city to attempt to curb obesity and health issues by charging the consumer more. Many including drivers, distributers, and beverage lobbyists opposed the added cost, calling the tax illegal.

It is true that there is a huge amount of money in the carbonated beverage industry. It has that “bite” which consumers across the world consider more refreshing than other drinks, and there is a variety of flavors to choose from. Enthusiasts have also taken to mixing the beverages with hard liquors to cut the alcoholic aftertaste and give the beverage that added effect they want.

The problem with it is that the caffeine usually involved in these carbonated products is a diuretic, much like alcohol. The regular beverages have more sugar than is healthy to consume, while the diet varieties contain aspartame, a potentially cancer causing agent. Either way, soda can negatively affect your health. They have also been linked to obesity, a serious problem the population of the United States faces today.

Philadelphia’s soda tax may stop the rapid consumption and possibly save lives in the future. It may take a few years to see any changes, but in the meantime, those who refuse to cut down will find their bank accounts shrinking. The tax rate is 1.5 cents per ounce, so the more you drink, the more you’ll pay. It’s unknown how this will be governed at food establishments which offer self-serve beverage units.

The Philadelphia soda tax had been attempted before and failed to pass twice. Either persistence paid off, or health problems finally became bad enough to convince the majority of the city government that it was a good idea. The final vote count was 13 against four, the opposition being Republicans Brian O’Neill, David Oh, Al Taubenberger, and Democrat Maria Quinones-Sanchez.

The funds raised by Philadelphia’s soda tax will go to Mayor Jim Kenney’s plans for universal pre-K, or help for low-income students. Being his first term as Mayor, this could be his defining moment. Opposition is still expected from Philadelphians Against the Grocery Tax, who feel that as a food, soda shouldn’t be singled out.

“This tax is unconstitutional, and that’s why we will take this fight to the courts to defend our broad-ranging coalition of more than 30,000 Philadelphians and 1,600 businesses and community organizations.”

Mayor Kenney feels that the tax and where the money is going will further secure the future of the city’s youth.

“Thanks to the tireless advocacy of educators, parents, rec center volunteers and so many others, Philadelphia made a historic investment in our neighborhoods and in our education system today. I commend City Council for working with these community leaders to make quality, affordable pre-K, community schools and systemic improvements to parks, rec centers and libraries a reality. I also thank my colleagues in Council for working with our administration to craft a shared agenda that will improve the education, health and prosperity of children and families all across our city for years to come. Today would not have been possible without everyone coming together in support of a fair future for every zipcode.”

How do you feel about Philadelphia’s soda tax?


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[Feature image via Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]

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