Philadelphia on Thursday became the largest, and only the second, U.S. city to tax soda and other sugary drinks despite a multimillion-dollar effort by the beverage industry to defeat it. The victory is one that supporters of the tax expect will provide a model for San Francisco, Boulder, Colo., and other cities pushing for similar measures.
For years, cities such as Seattle, San Francisco and Chicago have tried and failed to do the same, faced with intense opposition from the soda industry. Even in Philadelphia, two previous attempts to pass a sugary drinks tax failed.
But this time, instead of focusing on the health aspect, the city’s new mayor, Jim Kenney, proposed the tax as a way to fund community and education initiatives. The new Philadelphia tax of 1.5 cents per ounce will be used to fund programs such as citywide pre-K education. The tax, passed by the City Council with a 13-4 vote, will take effect Jan. 1, 2017.
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