Council OKs tax on soda, sugary drinks

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The Seattle City Council approved the measure in a 7-1 vote, placing a 1.75 cents per ounce tax on beverages containing sugar.

Several business owners have spoken out against the tax, saying jobs could be cut.

Though many councilmembers expressed interest in revisiting the diet drink debate down the line, diet drinks remained excluded from the final tax, a move that many critics called regressive.

Under the measure, due to go into effect in January, distributors of all bottled and canned sodas, juice drinks, sports and energy drinks, flavoured waters, sweetened teas and ready-to-drink coffee beverages sold in Seattle would pay a tax of US$1.75 cents (S$2.42 cents) per ounce.

Other localities that have adopted similar measures during the past few years include Philadelphia, San Francisco, its Bay-area neighbours of Berkeley, Oakland and Albany, California, Boulder, Colorado, and Cook County, Illinois, which includes Chicago.

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"Liquid sugar has zero nutritional benefits", he said, according to The Washington Post.

Jennifer Cue, president of Seattle-based Jones Soda, said the company believes in the intention of the funds.

Keep Seattle Livable for All, a coalition representing more than 200 concerned citizens, small businesses, and community organizations opposed the beverage tax. The tax will raise money for healthy eating and education programs for low-income youth.

The version that advanced out a council committee Wednesday, however, doesn't include diet drinks. He revised his plan to add diet drinks after an analysis showed their popularity among wealthy people and white people.

Still, Tammy Nguyen, an organizer with the community group Got Green, said, "This is a significant a victory by and for working families throughout Seattle because the new law puts closing the food security gap as the number one investment priority for the tax revenue".

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