5 U.S. Cities OK Tax on Soda and Other Sugary Drinks

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Chicago and four other American cities approved a tax on soda and other sugary beverages. Find out how it works and where the money will go.

The price of soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages will soon go up in a handful of U.S. cities that approved a soda tax this week.

Before now, a mere two U.S. cities — Berkeley and Philadelphia — had passed and implemented a tax on soda. This week, five more cities passed similar measures.

The so-called soda tax is designed to reduce consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and ward off the negative health impacts of drinking soda, including obesity, Type 2 diabetes and tooth decay.

In just the first five months after Berkeley implemented its soda tax in March 2015, the consumption of sugary beverages plunged 21 percent.

The soda industry has been successfully fighting against such proposals for years. But the table seems to be turning these days, with more voters approving soda taxes. Dr. John Maa, secretary of the San Francisco Medical Society, tells the Associated Press:

“This is a very strong message to the soda industry, and this will lead to the introduction of new proposals all across the country.”

The following municipalities approved soda taxes this week:

  • Chicago and Cook County, Illinois: The most populous municipality in the U.S. to approve such a tax, Cook County residents will soon pay 1 cent more per ounce to purchase soda or other sugary beverages — including drinks like diet soda with zero-calorie sweeteners. The penny-per-ounce tax is expected to generate $221 million in 2017, says MarketWatch.
  • San Francisco: Roughly 62 percent of voters in San Francisco approved a 1-cent-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks, says NPR.
  • Oakland, California: Voters in Oakland also approved a 1-cent-per-ounce tax on soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages.
  • Albany, California: Voters in this Bay Area town approved a 1-cent-per-ounce tax on soda pop and other sugary drinks.
  • Boulder, Colorado: Voters approved a 2-cent-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks in Boulder.

Just last month, the World Health Organization urged governments across the globe to adopt taxes on soda and other sugary drinks in an effort to reduce the negative health impacts associated with consuming such drinks.

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