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Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney is expected to propose a tax of 3 cents per ounce on sugar-sweetened beverages when he presents his budget recommendations to the city council this week, according to published reports. Kenney aims to raise $400 million from the tax over the next five years, with most of the money going to boost access to prekindergarten education.
A similar attempt to raise funds by the previous mayor of Philadelphia, Michael Nutter, came to nothing in 2011, and former New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s highly publicized bid to ban the sale of sugary beverages in 16-ounce containers and larger failed in 2013. However, Berkeley, Calif., successfully enacted a 1 cent-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened drinks in 2014, while Mexico rolled out a national tax on such products the same year.
Unsurprisingly, the Washington, D.C.-based American Beverage Association objected to Kenney’s pending proposal, noting that the industry provides many good-paying jobs in Philadelphia, where residents have already endured other tax hikes, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Meanwhile, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a health advocacy group also based in Washington, hailed Kenney's move, with President Michael F. Jacobson asserting that it “deserves the support of all members of the city council.”
Added Jacobson: “Soda is nutritionally worthless and incredibly cheap, but promotes chronic diseases that are incredibly expensive to treat, such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease. Taxes can help reduce consumption, as well as provide revenue for much-needed programs in cities like Philadelphia, and states, for that matter.”