Seattle City Council OKs tax on soda, sugary drinks

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray on Tuesday signed a bill into law that will add a 1.75 cent per ounce tax on sugary drinks in the city.

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. The 7-1 vote, with Councilmember Lisa Herbold against and Councilmember Kshama Sawant absent, paves the way for a tax of 1.75 cents per ounce on these types of drinks.

The proceeds from the tax are expected to go towards education, food banks and meal programmes, Seattle City Council said. The tax excludes diet drinks.

City Councilman Tim Burgess, the measure's chief sponsor, said those details would be ironed out through implementing regulations still to be developed by the mayor's office.

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

People like Jennifer Cue, owner of Seattle-based Jones Soda Company, opposed the legislation at the meeting. But Cue said it wasn't fair to target one industry. So even if it made sense to tax low-income Seattleites so that supposedly smarter officials could then give the money back to them in the form of services the government thinks they need, there's no guarantee that the soda tax will do even that.

Some people spoke in favor of the tax but recommended that the council consider including diet drinks as a matter of fairness. If you would like to discuss another topic, look for a relevant article.

  • Joanne Flowers