- Philadelphia passed its proposed sin tax on soft drinks in a 13-4 vote Thursday, the first major American city to do so, reports Politico.
- The 1.5-cent soda tax was positioned as a revenue driver for the city, expected to generate more than $400 million over five years to fund local children's education and park initiatives.
- The American Beverage Association has announced its intentions to sue to prevent the tax from going into effect.
More cities could follow, using Philadelphia's tax as leverage and momentum. Sugary drink taxes are already up for consideration on the ballot in Boulder, CO, and San Francisco, Oakland, and Albany, CA. Berkeley, CA, passed the country's first soda tax in 2014, but Philadelphia is a much larger and more diverse city, which means its tax could have a more extensive impact. Michael Jacobson, president of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, described the tax as "a game changer" to Politico.
However, the approval of this tax may not be the turning point health advocates hope it to be. The ABA has a decade-long track record of success in defeating soda tax proposals — 43 victories since 2008, two of which were in Philadelphia.
"The tax passed today is a regressive tax that unfairly singles out beverages – including low- and no-calorie choices," the ABA said in a statement. "But most importantly, it is against the law."
The difference this time around, however, is that the soda tax was positioned as an economic benefit rather than a public health benefit. The health-centric argument hasn't been enough to push soda taxes through, in Philadelphia or most other cities. Still, the ABA isn't phased.