The New Year has arrived in all its glory, and that means so has Philadelphia’s heftyish soda tax. Sugary drinks anywhere in the city now incur a surcharge of 1.5 cents per ounce. Technically, it’s a tax levied only on the distributors, but if residents’ furious outbursts on social media are any indication, businesses around town aren’t losing sleep saddling consumers with it.
Before it went into effect, the tax was surprisingly popular with residents, partly because Mayor Jim Kenney pitched it, in a real masterwork of politics, as an untapped revenue source that could fund citywide pre-K, instead of as a sin tax on sugar. But that popularity now appears to be cratering like the sugar high these people aren’t getting:
Meanwhile, ShopRite, a large supermarket chain in Philly, didn’t do such a fantastic job reading the fine print either, and as a result locations mistakenly stuck a surcharge on 100 percent juice, mineral water, and bottles of Cholula hot sauce that hopefully nobody was drinking. Another local grocer just quit stocking sodas entirely, although it seems that was mostly out of protest:
Others with more of a renegade streak are hunting down loopholes:
If the pattern continues, it could really complicate the city’s goal of raising $91 million a year off the tax, but from the public-health perspective, it’s probably fair to assume the more anger, the merrier.