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What is the Soda Tax?

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By: burgundy bug

Soda display at Lolli & Pops in King of Prussia, Pa

Source: Soda Display | Penelope Peru Photography P3

You’re carousing the aisles of your favorite convenience store in Philadelphia, parched, your mouth as dry as the Sahara desert.

Craving a bubbly, sugary Coke, you quickly navigate to the beverage section only to find the price has jumped to $2.12 – and that’s not including the city’s 0.08 percent sales tax, either.

You could’ve sworn it was only $1.99 for an 8.5oz aluminum can. Mystified, somewhat annoyed, and still thirsty, you turn to your best friend Google for some answers.

A brief search brings up article after article about this whole “soda tax” thing that’s been implemented in Australia, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Philadelphia, and Chicago, to name a few places.

Why? What is this whole soda tax thing, anyways?

The Soda Tax Explained

The soda tax, also known as the sugary drink tax, is an additional fee placed on sweetened beverages. This includes soda, iced tea, coffees made with sugar (think: Frappucinos), and sports beverages.

The tax rate will vary from city to city, but it ranges from about one to two cents per fluid ounce. In Philadelphia, the rate is $0.015 per fluid ounce.

Why Tax Soda?

The soda tax has been implemented as an effort to decrease sugary-drink consumption, just like the cigarette tax.

The House of Representatives proposed the “SWEET act” bill to implement a one cent per 4.2 grams of sweetener tax due to the prevalence of obesity in the United States.

Where Does the Money from the Soda Tax Go?

In the “SWEET act,” legislators propose the revenue go towards prevention, treatment, and research on diet-related health conditions, such as the connection between obesity and heart disease, for example.

How the money is distributed is really up to the city the tax has been implemented in so far. In Philadelphia, the revenue will fund public schools, parks, recreational centers, and libraries, according to Philly Bev Tax.

The Reaction to the Soda Tax

Although the intention behind the soda tax is to better the wellbeing of We the People, that’s not to say it hasn’t passed without its fair share of criticism.

Nevertheless, the main objective of the bill, to decrease sweetened beverage consumption, has been effective… Kind of.

Soda consumption decreased 51 percent in Philadelphia during the first year of the tax, but increased by 308.2 million oz, as reported during research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on Tuesday. Overall, the tax has resulted in a 38 percent decrease in soda consumption in the city.

In Mexico, taxed beverages saw a 7.6 percent decrease in sales, with their counterpart increasing by 2.1 percent within two years of its implementation.

Your Reaction to the Soda Tax

How do you feel about the soda tax? We’re dying to know. Feel free to contact us with your opinion for the opportunity to be featured in a follow-up article to this one.

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burgundy bug


A cynical optimist and mad scientist undercover, burgundy bug is the editor, graphic designer, webmaster, social media manager, and primary photographer for The Burgundy Zine. Entangled in a web of curiosity, burgundy bug’s work embodies a wide variety of topics including: neuroscience, psychology, ecology, biology, cannabis, reviews, fashion, entertainment, and politics. You can learn more about working with burgundy bug by visiting her portfolio website: burgundybug.com

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