A few days ago we were talking about the proposal made in the city of Philadelphia (United States) to apply a tax of 1.5 cents per fluid ounce, on different types of sugary drinks, soft drinks, sports drinks, sugary tea, and even in artificially sweetened beverages, such as diet sodas. The proposal was put to a vote yesterday at the City Council, obtaining a favorable majority for the introduction of the soft drink tax.
Philadelphia has passed the soda and sugary drinks tax, making it the first major city in the United States to apply it. As we explained previously, the first to approve a soda tax was Berkeley, a small city with 112,000 inhabitants, but the fact that a large city has introduced the tax sets a precedent for other major cities in the country to take the same measure, something that The soft drinks and sweetened beverages industry sector fears.
For the Mayor of the city, Jim Kenney, this is a historic investment for the education system and its neighborhoods, but this tax will not have the desired effect, since it is not a significant increase and it will not discourage consumers. In the purchase of this type of beverages, it would have been something else if the initial measure had been approved, with which it was intended to establish a tax of twice the current one, but it was proposed to reduce it in order to cover more types of beverages. As an example of failure, we can cite the little effectiveness that the tax has had in Berkeley, whose amount is the same as that now applied in Philadelphia, and whose objectives it has not been able to meet.
It is a tax that has a clear collection objective to help increase the money in the public coffers. A collection that will be around 91 million dollars is being considered next year, and it is said that thanks to this money pre-K education programs (pre-kindergartens) will be financed, park facilities and recreation centers will be improved. , and with what is left over, the general funds of the city will be increased. At no time has there been talk of programs to improve diet and lifestyle, such as the subsidy of healthy foods, care plans for those who are overweight and obese, etc.
With a relatively small tax, consumption will not be discouraged, and this is in the interest of the City Council, as this ensures good collection. There are many studies that show that this type of tax must be high to be effective, a minimum of 20% of the value of the products would cause a reduction in consumption and an improvement in the health of the city, but it seems evident that this not really the goal.
The tax will take effect on January 1, 2017 and will apply to distributors, but as happened in Berkeley, companies will possibly assume part of the tax, so the price increase for the consumer will be so small that it will not will cause a reduction in consumption. As we read here, the city council declares that it is the responsibility of the council to do everything possible to inform the community about the real health risks of sugar-sweetened beverages, ensuring that only time will tell if the tax has a positive effect. in the population. Possibly you already know the answer, just look at the results obtained in Berkeley, but as we have said, the purpose seems to be different.
The beverage industry comments that it is a regressive tax that unfairly demonizes beverages and soft drinks, since there are many other products responsible for overweight and obesity. On the other hand, it states that it makes no sense to tax sugar-free and calorie-free beverages, which shows the discriminatory nature of the tax. The industry considers this to be an illegal tax in violation of the Pennsylvania State Constitution. Given the legal basis exposed, legal action will be taken against the City Council.
With the excuse of improving nutrition and reducing overweight and obesity, this is a new formula to increase revenue in the public coffers, a model that other large cities will surely try to support. If these objectives were really to be achieved, a high tax would be applied to all those products that due to their high sugar content were harmful to health, it would be legislated to force the reformulation of products, it would invest in programs to improve nutrition by reducing the cost of healthy foods to make them more accessible, and so on.
Gastronomy & Co.