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Philadelphia Approves Tax on Soda, Sugary Drinks

  • VOA News

Audience members react after the Philadelphia City Council passed a tax on sugary beverages, in Philadelphia, June 16, 2016.

Audience members react after the Philadelphia City Council passed a tax on sugary beverages, in Philadelphia, June 16, 2016.

If you visit Philadelphia and want to quench your thirst with a Coke, get ready to pay more.

The fifth-largest U.S. city Thursday enacted a tax of 50 cents per liter on sweet sodas and other soft drinks with sugar added, such as sports drinks, coffee drinks and sweetened iced tea.

The City Council voted the tax into law despite a challenge by the soft drink industry, which spent millions of dollars in a campaign opposing the soda tax, calling it a discriminatory measure that would unfairly affect poor Philadelphians.

The tax will take effect January 1.

Mayor Jim Kenney speaks during a news conference at City Hall in Philadelphia, June 16, 2016. He says he expects the city's new soda tax to raise $91 million a year for schools, libraries and pre-kindergarten programs.

Mayor Jim Kenney speaks during a news conference at City Hall in Philadelphia, June 16, 2016. He says he expects the city's new soda tax to raise $91 million a year for schools, libraries and pre-kindergarten programs.

Supporters of the new tax said it is necessary because Philadelphia, historically known as "The City of Brotherly Love," is too fat. More than 68 percent of adults and 41 percent of the city's children are either overweight or obese.

Mayor Jim Kenney said he expected the new tax to raise $91 million a year for schools, libraries and pre-kindergarten programs.

Philadelphia, in eastern Pennsylvania, roughly midway between Washington and New York, is by far the largest American municipality to tax sugary drinks.

Berkeley, California, is believed to be the only other U.S. city to tax soda.

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