Health Care

Seattle City Council Approves "Soda Tax"

Seattle City Council Approves

After years of stamping out soda tax proposals with well-financed campaigns, Big Soda is suddenly finding itself up against bigger adversaries.

Rex Sorgatz/FlickrSeattle's city council passed a new soda tax yesterday over the loud opposition of local business owners, teamsters, and other citizens. Councilman Tim Burgess, who sponsored the tax after Democratic Mayor Ed Murray proposed the idea in February, argues soda and other drinks are a threat to public health.

Businesses and labor groups spoke out against the tax saying it would hurt jobs and small businesses.

Though many councilmembers expressed interest in revisiting the diet drink debate down the line, diet drinks remained excluded from the final tax, a move that many critics called regressive. Citing statistics that showed more wealthy white people drink diet sodas compared to minorities, he also broadened the bill's language to cover diet sodas, which were exempt in the prior iteration.

The tax will be implemented at the distribution level, meaning that retailers will likely be forced to pass on the extra cost to consumers.

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Officials in Seattle passed the second largest Soda Tax in the U.S. Monday in an effort to close "the food security gap" and dissuade residents from buying sugary drinks.

Similar taxes have been approved by voters in San Francisco, Oakland, Boulder and more, although few area as steep as Seattle's would be. Murray, along with community advocates and public health professionals, supported the bill as a means of reducing consumption of SSB and raising revenues for programs aimed at "reducing disparities between white and African-American students and other historically underrepresented students of color". "However, singling out a product for a tax won't make people in Seattle healthier and certainly will hit the pocketbooks of those who can least afford it".

Cue said the tax isn't fair.

Herbold raised an amendment to reduce the tax to 1.25 cents and include sugary coffee.


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