ShareThis Page

Trib editorial: Philly's fizzling soda tax

| Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017, 9:00 p.m.
Sugar tax stickers are posted by sweetened beverages at the IGA supermarket in the Port Richmond neighborhood of Philadelphia. (AP Photo)
Sugar tax stickers are posted by sweetened beverages at the IGA supermarket in the Port Richmond neighborhood of Philadelphia. (AP Photo)

A recent Harrisburg hearing on Philadelphia's “soda tax” at least was held — unlike a June attempt at Philly's City Hall that ended after 45 minutes of soda-tax supporters' noisemaking. Unsurprisingly, this hearing confirmed what is patently an ill-advised tax.

Pro-soda-tax Philly Mayor Jim Kenney naively wrote in a Huffington Post piece last year that businesses would be “immoral and completely hypocritical” to pass it along to consumers. But they're not the only victims since this 1.5-cents-per-ounce levy on sugary and diet beverages took effect Jan. 1. A Philly-area CEO testified that at his chain's city supermarkets, beverage sales are down by half and overall sales are down 10 to 25 percent as shoppers avoiding the tax visit his suburban stores, and 210 jobs have been cut.

He also said the tax “falls disproportionately on people of color and assumes they can't make wise decisions regarding their health.” Philly Democrat state Sen. Anthony Williams added, “We don't tax lattes. Maybe we should.” He dislikes the tax but likes what it funds, yet it's also failing financially: Philly's outgoing controller testified that its shortfall compared to the $90 million it was supposed to generate annually — for pre-K and community schools, parks, recreation centers and libraries — could reach $15 million.

Now there's talk of Senate legislation that would end the soda tax in Philly and prevent it elsewhere — which wouldn't be needed if Philly had the economic and common sense to not implement it in the first place.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.