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Philadelphia passes sugar tax on sodas

dpadpa 16/06/2016

Philadelphia has become the first major US city to set a levy on sodas with high levels of sugar with the revenue raised earmarked for community projects.

Philadelphia has become the first major US city to institute a tax on sugary drinks in an effort to reduce obesity while fattening city coffers.

The move by the city council in the fifth-largest US city - considered a major blow to the powerful soda industry - adds a tax of 1.5 cents per ounce for drinks containing sugar.

A typical 12-ounce (355-millilitre) container of soda, for example, will cost an additional 18 US cents.

While revenue from the tax is earmarked for improving education and other public resources like parks, it is also intended to discourage unhealthy dietary practices as the levels of obesity and diabetes have skyrocketed in the US and worldwide.

"Thanks to the tireless advocacy of educators, parents, rec centre volunteers and so many others, Philadelphia made a historic investment in our neighbourhoods and in our education system today," Jim Kenney, the mayor of the city in the northeastern US state of Pennsylvania, said in statement on Thursday.

The powerful American Beverage Association has successfully fended off 45 similar tax efforts around the country, the Washington Post reported.

Michael Bloomberg, an early champion of soda taxes who also made an unsuccessful effort to ban the sale of large sodas while mayor of New York City, hailed Thursday's decision.

"Congrats to Philadelphia's city council and Mayor @JimFKenney for standing up to the beverage industry," Bloomberg said on Twitter.

One other US city, Berkeley in California, implemented a soda tax in 2014, but its population is far smaller than Philadelphia's.

The sticky issue also entered the Democratic presidential race.

Hillary Clinton favoured the tax as it will raise community funds, while Bernie Sanders came out against the measure because he said it would hit the poor the hardest, according to the Post.

Two other US cities, Oakland, California, and Boulder, Colorado, are considering implementing similar taxes.

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