Seattle soda tax moves to final vote after dropping diet soda from proposed plan

By Mary Ellen Shoup

- Last updated on GMT

Seattle is set to make a final vote on a 1.75-cent-per-ounce soda tax next Monday, according to the city council. ©iStock/ashleymatheny
Seattle is set to make a final vote on a 1.75-cent-per-ounce soda tax next Monday, according to the city council. ©iStock/ashleymatheny

Related tags Nutrition

The proposed Seattle, Washington, soda tax has moved forward to a final vote after city council members approved the ordinance 6-2 but agreed to exclude a tax on diet soda from the measure.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray proposed a 1.75 cent tax per ounce on sales of regular and diet soda earlier this year. The recently amended version of the tax has dropped diet drinks and exempts small manufacturers (less than $2m in gross annual income) from the fee and gives medium-sized manufacturers (more than $2m, but less than $5m in gross income) a reduced rate of a 1 cent tax per fluid ounce.

The council is scheduled to make a final vote on the amended sweetened beverage tax early next week.

Diabetes and obesity on the rise

“The sweetened beverage tax is designed to address the fact that diabetes and obesity have been on the rise for decades, and low income communities and communities of color continue to be disproportionately affected,”​ Mayor Murray wrote in a letter to Seattle’s city council.

“Increased soda consumption is believed a driver of these growing public health challenges and similar taxes in other cities have shown early signs of a decrease in soda consumption.”

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania passed a similar tax on sweetened beverages in January 2017 and has reported increased revenue and reduced soda consumption​ so far. The Philadelphia Department of Revenue said that they on track to reach its fiscal 2017 goal of $46m in soda tax revenue after bringing in more than $19m in three months.

Seattle has a similar financial goal and estimates that the proposed sweetened beverage tax will generate $28,378,000 by 2018, according to the summary and fiscal note document.

The city said it would use the tax revenue for services that will promote school readiness and learning, reduce the academic achievement gap, improve access to healthy food, and expand services for the birth-to-five population.

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