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March 14, 2019

Philly City Council reportedly eyes rolling back soda tax in coming years

The divisive surcharge on sugary drinks went into effect in early 2017

Government Soda Tax

Sugary beverages, like soda, have been found to be worse for health than other sweets.

Philadelphia and Mayor Jim Kenney’s contentious soda tax seems to be in hot (carbonated) water.

Philadelphia City Councilwoman María Quiñones-Sánchez introduced a new bill Thursday which would phase out part of the tax on sweetened beverages, according to WHYY, which went into effect in early 2017.

Specific details on the legislation, including whether the tax would be rolled back entirely or just partially, aren’t currently clear.

City Council also introduced a resolution studying the way the soda tax affects local businesses, WHYY reports.

Back in October 2016, when the fight over the soda tax was still raging, a Pew Charitable Trusts report found that 54 percent of Philadelphia residents supported the tax, and 42 percent opposed the measure.

But critics have been vocal, including small business owners claiming the tax is hurting their communities and their bottom lines. One grocery store owner even contends the soda tax led to the closure of his West Philadelphia ShopRite.

A study from Mathematica Policy Research in September said that about one in three Philadelphia residents buy sweetened beverages outside city limits. The study also noted that shoppers purchased nearly nine fewer ounces of sweetened beverages during shopping trips since the tax was enacted.

And in December, the city released a public database for residents to track the way the city uses revenue from the tax. The city collected $77.4 million from the tax in 2018, the tax’s first full year.

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