Philly’s Proposed Soda Tax Could Save Lives And Millions In Health Spending


Jim Kenney has only been Philadelphia’s mayor for a few months, but he has recently caught national attention for a proposed sugary drink tax. This in itself is nothing new, as former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter tried to pass a similar tax in the past and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg waged a war on Big Gulps. However, this tax is nothing like the penny soda taxes that have been proposed before. Kenney’s tax would add an additional 3 cents per ounce, but it could potentially take off a few inches from the City of Brotherly Love’s waistline.

According to a recent Harvard study, if the tax is approved, Philadelphians could see some major health benefits. 36,000 people wouldn’t be obese, 2,300 fewer cases of diabetes would be diagnosed, and $200 million would be saved in health-care spending. The numbers look good, but there’s no mention about the consumption of delicious cheesesteaks, pretzels, and gallons of beer consumed every Sunday by Eagles fans in the parking lot of The Linc.

Currently, only Berkeley, California, has approved a penny sugary drink tax in the United States, but our neighbors to the South are seeing positive results from their tax. Mexicans are drinking less non-diet soft drinks and more bottled water. However, Philadelphia’s newest sugary drink tax has a long way to go before it is approved — the 3 cents per ounce is going to add up quickly. It slaps on another 36 cents to a 12 ounce can, and $1.32 if you fill up the biggest cup Wawa has with a non-diet soda.

Soda consumption, for the most part, has been declining in the United States, and soda taxes have not caught on despite the health benefits of drinking less soda. Time will tell if this legislation will pass, and if it actually makes a tangible difference.