Amid a flurry of other tax-related news, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced Feb. 21 that he would champion a sugary drinks levy to raise $16 million a year to reduce the “opportunity gap” between the city’s white students and students of color.
Murray said he would likely take the proposal for a tax of two cents per ounce to the City Council rather than the ballot. A few days later, a Seattle Times columnist mused about whether it was fair to omit diet drinks that are more favored by affluent and white consumers. Our take: The science is clear that sugar is harmful, but the evidence on diet drinks is inconclusive at best (read our review of the evidence here).
In Philadelphia, meanwhile, Pepsi and other distributors are threatening to lay off workers in the face of what they claim is a 40-50 percent decline in sales of sweetened beverages since a 1.5-cent tax took effect Jan. 1. It seems unlikely that an effect of that size – if indeed the industry reports are true – would be sustained, and the jobs losses may never materialize. But industry groups are making serious political hay with the claims in the meantime.