Philadelphia has passed legislation to introduce a city-wide tax on sweetened drinks

Philadelphia has passed legislation to introduce a city-wide tax on sweetened drinks

The American Beverage Association (ABA) and a workers union representing soft drinks employees have jointly filed a lawsuit against Philadelphia over the city's Sweetened Beverage Tax.

In June, Philadelphia's City Council passed legislation to introduce a city-wide tax on sweetened beverages, making it the first major US city to take the measure. Officials voted in favour of a US$0.015-per-ounce levy on full-sugared and artificially-sweetened soft drinks.

In a lawsuit filed today, the ABA and Teamsters Local 830 said they are seeking to block the tax from going forward until a court can hear arguments about the proposed tax.

"This soda tax is a regressive tax that will hurt our industry," said Teamsters international VP Bill Hamilton. "The issue has never been about health and we will all end up paying for this tax with the job losses that will occur if the mayor's soda tax is passed."

Philadelphia's Mayor Jim Kenney responded in a joint statement with city solicitor Sozi Pedro Tulante. "We are ready and prepared to vigorously defend this legislation and to protect the historic investment planned for Philadelphia's neighbourhoods and education system," said Tulante. "We have always been confident that the Sweetened Beverage Tax was a proper exercise of City Council's authority and that it will be upheld in court."

Kenney said the money from the tax would be used to improve facilities such as schools, parks and libraries.

"While it is repugnant that the multi-billion-dollar soda industry would try to take away these educational and community programmes from the hundreds of thousands of Philadelphians who need them, we were not surprised by their lawsuit given the ten million dollars they have already spent opposing the tax," said Kenney. "I have no doubt we'll be successful in defeating lawsuit."

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