With proposed tax, city gets revenue for sugary sales




Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter’s new tax proposal may take the sweetness out of purchasing your daily can of Coke.

Beginning in 2011, the proposed tax would charge two cents per ounce of soda, energy drink, juice or any other beverage with added sugar.

The mayor’s office projects that the tax would yield $77 million per year, most of which would go to the city’s general budget fund.

However, $20 million would go toward healthy eating and exercise programs, according to Philadelphia Health Commissioner Donald Schwarz.

The proposed tax comes on the heels of Philadelphia’s new caloric content posting law on chain restaurant menus. Like the posting law, this Philadelphia tax is much stricter than its predecessors in other states. The proposed tax is double the sugary drink tax in New York.

The proposed tax would charge $0.02 per oz. on soda, energy drinks, juice and any other beverage with added sugar. The tax would yield about $77 million a year, of which $20 million would go toward healthy eating and exercise programs.

“It is a relief to see the government creating economic structures to promote ... human health,” said Sebastian Rowland, a College sophomore.

Jana Hirsch, a College senior and Nutrition minor, agreed. Taxes on sugary drinks could “accomplish what health education alone cannot — an economic incentive for people to make smarter choices,” she wrote in an e-mail.

However, because the sugary drinks tax will be charged to distributors and not individual consumers, some argue the initiative will not directly affect soda consumption habits.

“To have an impact on obesity, the taxes will need to get to the level of the consumer,” Stella Volpe, a professor of Biobehavioral and Health Sciences at Penn Nursing, wrote in an e-mail.

However, she still supports the tax, adding that the decreased consumption of sugary beverages could lead to a decrease in body weight among Philadelphians, “or at least the prevention of weight gain.”

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