This Soda Pop Tax Has a Sweet Side

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Sugary sodas are good for kids -- or at least they could be in Philadelphia -- if a tax proposal there gets a thumbs up from the city council.

Is the third time the charm for adopting a soda tax in Philadelphia? Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney hopes so.

After two unsuccessful attempts by his predecessor to pass a tax on sugary beverages, Kenney is hoping to garner support for a “Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Tax” — which would apply to sugared soda, flavored water, sports drinks and some juices — by using the money it generates to fund universal pre-K education and other community initiatives, NBC News reports.

By emphasizing the economic benefits of a soda tax rather than focusing on driving down soda consumption, Philadelphia may finally be able to shake the opposition from residents who bristle at the thought of another tax or the perceived notion that the government is trying to control what they choose to consume.

“Whenever something seems designed to take our freedoms away or restrict us … we get angry and push back,” David Just, a professor of economics at Cornell University who works in the school’s Food & Brand Lab, told NBC.

The proposed 3-cents-an-ounce tax on sugary beverages in Philadelphia is much higher than the 1-cent-an-ounce soda tax in Berkeley — the only city in the United States to successfully pass such a tax. Its implementation would result in a price increase of $4.32 for a 12-pack of soda and a hike of $2.04 for a 2-liter soda, CBS News reports.

The Philadelphia City Council will vote on the soda tax in June. Kenney says the measure is a win-win from both a health and an education perspective.

“You can choose to drink something else, we’re not taxing thirst,” Kenney told CBS. “We baked in a 55-percent drop-off in consumption in our modeling, which is ridiculously high. Even if it dropped off 55 percent, we’re still raising $95 million a year.”

According to CBS, the proposed soda tax is opposed by the Philadelphians Against the Grocery Tax Coalition, who says it “will hurt working families and small businesses, but it will not improve public health.”

The American Beverage Association has also slammed the tax, spending an estimated $3 million on ads opposing the soda tax.

Even without the tax, soda consumption is in its 10th year of decline in the United States.

Check out “What’s Really in Your Soda.”

What do you think of a sugary beverage or soda pop tax? Would you vote for such a tax if it funded universal early childhood education? Sound off below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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