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Philadelphia set to approve sugar tax next week

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The US city of Philadelphia is poised to introduce a per-ounce tax on full-sugared and artificially-sweetened soft drinks.

The city council's Committee of the Whole voted this week in favour of a US$0.015-per-ounce levy. The preliminary approval sends the proposal to a final vote a week today.

Philadelphia's mayor, Jim Kenney, had initially submitted plans for a three-cents-per ounce tax on sugared drinks only. Kenney argued that the move would raise US$95m, which would help fund a raft of initiatives.

In a meeting yesterday, however, the Committee of the Whole agreed a lower rate but for a wider range of drinks, with diet CSDs also being included. The revised proposal is expected to bring in $91m for the city.

"We will soon send Mayor Kenney a budget plan that is ultimately more equitable, more sustainable, and smarter public health policy," said Council Majority Whip Blondell Reynolds Brown.

Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell added: "A 1.5-cent-per-ounce tax increase on soft drinks will have a smaller negative impact on businesses and consumers (and) be more widely spread among consumers at both ends of the income spectrum."

If approved, Philadelphia will become the largest city in the US to impose a tax on CSDs. In late-2014, residents of the Californian city of Berkely voted in favour of their own sugar tax.

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