Proposed sugary drink tax success questioned

    Philadelphia’s mayor has proposed an unprecedented tax on sugary drinks to help raise revenue for the city.

    Philadelphia’s mayor has proposed an unprecedented tax on sugary drinks to help raise revenue for the city.
    (Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ev0luti0nary/ / CC BY-ND 2.0)

    The other goal of the tax is to help curb rising rates of obesity.

    Mayor Michael Nutter is asking for a two-cents per liter tax on drinks with added sugar.

    About twenty five percent of the money earned would go toward obesity prevention programs, something health commissioner Donald Schwarz says the city has not had resources to fund.

    Schwarz says he also expects the tax to change people’s behavior and get them to reduce how much sugar they’re consuming.

    This all hinges on whether business owners will actually apply the tax to beverages, rather than other items.

    Schwarz: We will certainly ask that they be good citizens around joining us in obesity prevention and the more of the assessment fee that’s passed on to individuals at the point of consumption the better.

    Other states and cities tax soft drinks, but Philadelphia’s tax would be higher and more specific to sugary drinks.

    One research group found that such taxes in place so far have not successfully contributed to weight loss.

    Schwarz says the city is looking for academic partners to study whether Philadelphia’s tax works, if it’s enacted.

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