Philly Paves the Way For Diet-Soda Taxes

In less than a week, Philadelphia will vote on a new tax on sodas which they are all but certain to pass. The tax will add 1.5 cents to every ounce of soda sold – an amount which adds up quickly on larger bottles and value-packs. The measure will make Philly the first large city to tax soda (Berkeley being the only other city in the U.S. to pass a similar law), as well as the first city to extend taxes to diet sodas. While the original proposal taxed only drinks with added sugar at 3 cents an ounce, critics argued this was too steep and disproportionately affected those with lower-incomes. The city council then amended the measure to tax all sodas at a lower rate, since upper- and middle-income consumers are more likely to reach for the diet soda.

Big Soda is already suffering from tanking sales and bad PR, so this move has understandably put them on the defensive. In the weeks leading up to the vote, soda companies have poured millions into ad campaigns against the tax, and the city has responded with some of their own. The council can also expect some litigation once they vote, since the industry is not likely to go down without a fight.

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