Opinion Today: Taxing soft drinks

Though our government may not be shooting for higher taxes, as Finance Minister Richard Gibson said on Friday during the tax summit at the Westin, there may be one levy that makes sense: a tax on soft drinks that contain sugar or artificial sweeteners. Philadelphia is the first large city on the United States to implement the measure.

Okay, some would say, from there we will be quickly at that old story about taxing alcohol and tobacco. But so what? It is only fair to look at the social and economic impacts of the use of sugary soft drinks, of smoking like a Turk and of drinking like Paul Gascoigne.

Philadelphia approved the law last week with 13 against 4 votes. The tax of 1.5 penny per ounce (28.5 gram) is for soft drinks to which sugars or artificial sweeteners have been added. The price of a can of soda would go up by around 15 cents in 2017 when the measure takes effect.

Philadelphia made two earlier attempts to introduce the tax, but it did not find a majority for it. This time the municipal council approved the measure after Mayor Jim Kenney had emphasized the potential fiscal advantages, rather than focusing on the public health aspects.

“Americans do not like to be told what is healthy for them,” Kenney explained his strategy. That shows: 68 percent of the city’s adult citizens and 41 percent of its children suffer from obesity.

The measure is yet another setback form the soft drink industry that is already under fire from consumers with healthcare concerns. Soft drink companies spent millions of dollars in Philadelphia on a campaign against the measure. The American Beverage Association has labeled the measure “discriminating and highly unpopular.” The organization goes to court in an attempt to nullify the legislation.
Source: Today SXM Taxing soft drinks