Statement from Michael R. Bloomberg on Philadelphia’s Tax on Sugar Sweetened Beverages

By Mike Bloomberg - JUN. 16, 2016

I want to congratulate Philadelphia’s city council and courageous mayor, Jim Kenney, for standing up to the beverage industry and doing what’s right for the people of their city. Obesity and poverty are both intractable national problems. No policy takes more direct aim at both than Philadelphia's tax on sugary drinks. I was glad to support it, and I will continue working to ensure that cities and nations pursuing these anti-obesity strategies get the support they need to level the playing field with the soda industry.

When elected officials in one city take on special interests and win, leaders in other jurisdictions are emboldened to act – as New York City’s smoking ban made perfectly clear. For that reason, Philadelphia will almost certainly not be the last city to adopt a sugary drinks tax. In fact, the question now is not whether any city will follow suit, but rather how many – and how quickly? In November, voters in three California cities will take up the issue, and it may also come before voters in Boulder, Colorado. When cities lead the way, solutions that were once considered non-starters can quickly catch fire and spread around the world. It would not be the first revolution Philadelphia has sparked.

On June 16, 2016 Philadelphia’s city council passed a bill that taxes soda and other drinks heavily sweetened and flavored with sugar at a rate of 1.5 cents per ounce. In Philadelphia, the soda tax is expected to generate $91 million in annual revenue that will be used to expand the city’s pre-Kindergarten program, revitalize parks, recreation centers, and libraries, and build new schools in low-income communities.