Philadelphia’s City Council on Thursday passed a 1.5 cent-per-ounce tax on sodas, a move that is likely to face court challenges from the beverage industry.
The passage makes Philadelphia the biggest city in the nation to pass a tax on sugary drinks and diet beverages. Berkeley, Calif., passed a similar measure in 2015. Mexico, the nation to our south, put a tax in place in 2014.
The move comes as the beverage industry, led by leader Atlanta-based Coca-Cola, is struggling with falling soda sales as consumers switch to teas, waters and energy drinks. Health advocates also have blamed the nation’s obesity in part on the consumption of sodas and diet beverages.
The American Beverage Association, which represents the soft drink industry, said, “The tax passed today is a regressive tax that unfairly singles out beverages – including low- and no-calorie choices. But most importantly, it is against the law. So we will side with the majority of the people of Philadelphia who oppose this tax and take legal action to stop it.”
Jim Krieger, executive director of Healthy Food America, praised the council’s decision.
“The bold action by Philadelphia’s mayor and city council, in the face of $5 million worth of industry pressure, is a win not just for the health and well-being of Philadelphia kids but for communities cross the country,” he said.