Seattle City Council OKs tax on soda, sugary drinks

SEATTLE  — The Seattle City Council has approved taxing soda and other sugary beverages to pay for nutrition and education programs.

The ordinance passed on a 7-1 vote Monday calls for a tax of 1.75 cents per ounce on major distributors of beverages such as Pepsi and Coke, sports drinks, energy drinks and other sweetened drinks. Diet drinks were exempted.

Mayor Ed Murray proposed the tax in February to raise millions for programs to promote healthy food choices and help close the learning gap between white and minority students.

Businesses and labor groups spoke out against the tax saying it would hurt jobs and small businesses. Other critics called it regressive saying it would impact low-income consumers.

Public health advocates and others cheered after the measure passed. They say it would cut down on the consumption of sugary drinks that have little nutritional value.

Keep Seattle Livable for All, a coalition representing more than 200 concerned citizens, small businesses, and community organizations opposed the beverage tax. Below is their statement:

“The City Council turned its back today on small business owners and working families with this job-killing tax that will drive up costs and further increase income inequality in Seattle. City officials have repeatedly acknowledged that this tax targets low-income and minority communities by pricing hundreds of different beverages out of their reach. As a result, those who can afford this tax the least will be hurt the most.

“Despite the health claims the City Council uses to justify this new tax, there’s actually no evidence that similar taxes elsewhere have improved public health. The evidence is clear that these types of taxes only make people’s lives harder and their cities less livable.”