The much-debated soda tax to combat the obesity epidemic took a step forward today, with Philadelphia becoming the country’s first major city to pass the proposal.
The city council approved the motion in 13-4 vote on Thursday.
While the tax carries ‘soda’ in its name, the proposal applies to any sugary or artificial drinks that’re bottled, canned, or dispensed from a fountain. These brutally unhealthy drinks will now be taxed at a 1.5 cents/ounce rate, in order to curb consumers to alternative beverages. The city plans to put the revenue towards education and city parks.
The highly contested vote reached its crescendo when it became a full-scale, multi-million dollar battle with health advocates, soda lobbyists, and those who saw it as a smart plan to increase city funding. Until now, the soda industry could be seen as the winners, framing each soda tax throw down as an imposition of free will.
Tax supporters in Philly weren’t having any of it this time around, countering with a ‘City vs. Big Soda companies’ angle. They pushed the idea that the city would raise $91 million a year for school and public spaces if the tax was adopted.
The city will enforce the tax next year, beginning collections on January 1, 2017.