Philadelphia and Berkeley, Calif., have already implemented a tax on sugary drinks. Taxes in San Francisco and Boulder, Colo., are on the way. But each tax is a little bit different.
First there was Hungary, six years ago, then France followed suit with taxing sugary drinks. Even Mexico tacked on a tax to soft drinks and juices in 2014.
Now Seattle is among a small but growing number of cities in the United States that want to curb our cravings by taxing sugar (and sometimes artificial sweeteners) in drinks.
The Seattle City Council passed the tax Monday with the hope of reducing health risks like diabetes and obesity and putting some extra money in the city’s coffers. The tax will be placed on distributors of sugary drinks, but the extra costs will most likely be passed on to consumers.
Seattle will have the second-highest tax on sweetened drinks in the United States. Here’s how Seattle will stack up against other cities that are on the soda-tax bandwagon.
Tax: 1.75 cents per ounce on sugary drinks (for example, a 2-liter bottle of soda will have an additional $1.18 in tax added); exempt are diet sodas, milk-based products and 100 percent fruit juice.
Results: The city estimates it will initially collect $15 million annually to fund healthy eating, including a program that help people on food stamps buy more fruits and vegetables. Labor unions fear job losses.
Tax: 1 cent per ounce on drinks with added sugars
Results: While the amount of taxes it will generate are unknown, the soda industry spent big bucks — $20 million — in an unsuccessful attempt to defeat the initiative.
The nearby cities of Oakland and Albany implemented similar one-cent taxes that will start in July.
Tax: 2 cents per ounce on beverages with added sugar and sweeteners
Results: Revenue will fund health and general-wellness programs and prevention of chronic diseases.
Cook County, Ill., including Chicago
Tax: 1 cent per ounce on sugar and artificially sweetened drinks, like soda, lemonade, ice tea and sports drinks
Results: This may have the largest impact of all the areas in the United States due to the sheer size of the population — more than 5 million people — who could be taxed.
Implemented: January 2017
Results: Soda manufacturers and retailers report they will be laying off employees because of a major drop in sales of up to 50 percent. The tax will help fund prekindergarten programs, jobs and development projects.
(The first city in the U.S. to tax the drinks)
Tax: 1 cent per ounce of sweetened drinks, excluding meal-replacement and milk-based drinks, diet sodas, fruit juice and alcohol.
Implemented: March 2015
Results: Reduction in consumption of sugary beverages by up to 21 percent and increase in water consumption. Taxes go into the city’s general fund.
Sources: City of Boulder, Forbes, The Seattle Times, The Economist, The Chicago Tribune, The New York Times