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PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter has included in his 2010-'11 budget a plan to levy what some are calling the highest tax in the nation on all sweetened beverages. The proposed 2¢-per- ounce tax -- dubbed the ""Healthy Philadelphia Initiative" -- would apply to fountain syrups and powders, based on the number of fluid ounces they produce. Diet drinks without added sugar would be excluded.
City officials said the tax could raise $77 million a year. Of that, $57 million would reportedly go to the general fund and $20 million annually would fund new programs fostering healthy eating and exercise. Half of Philadelphia's children are overweight or obese.
New York (see story above), Massachusetts and California are among seven states considering tax levies on sugar-sweetened drinks. The Philadelphia proposal would be double New York state's proposed tax. It's also more than the 3% soft-drink tax in Chicago, the only major city with such a tax. Chicago's tax adds 4¢ to a 20-fl.oz. soda priced at $1.30. The city taxes soda, diet drinks, sports drinks, sweet tea, and all drinks containing natural or artificial sweeteners.
At the federal level, the House Ways and Means Committee briefly considered a drink tax last year to help fund a healthcare overhaul. Lobbying efforts by the soft drink industry helped quash the idea.