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Seattle Is The Next City That Wants To Control What People Drink

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Business owners are lashing out at Seattle officials over a proposed tax on sugary beverages that local union leaders warn will “create deep economic insecurities.”

The Seattle City Council agreed Wednesday to move a proposal placing a 1.75 cents per ounce tax on soda to a final vote, which is expected to be held Monday. Before advancing in the chamber, the Council amended the language to exclude diet soft drinks from the tax. The tax will be implemented at the distribution level, meaning that retailers will likely be forced to pass on the extra cost to consumers, reports KIRO 7.

Proponents of the tax argue it is necessary to dissuade consumers from harming their long-term health and to fight rising obesity rates across the country, but business owners say it will threaten their livelihood. A store owner spoke out against the proposal at the Council meeting Wednesday, saying that the tax “is going to kill the businesses absolutely.”

“This tax threatens to create deep economic insecurities for them and their families and it’s not right,” Pete Lam, a member of Teamsters Local 174, told KIRO 7 regarding the impact on workers.

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The city is following the example of Philadelphia, which imposed a 1.5 cents per ounce soda tax in January, drawing the ire of business owners and residents. By the end of February, beverage sales had cratered 30 to 50 percent and forced layoffs to offset the new costs.

Announcements of layoffs from stores provoked the ire of Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, who appeared confused regarding why businesses are not choosing to eat the added costs. Kenney views product price hikes and layoffs due to the tax as a choice by businesses to punish the city and its residents for the policy.

Many residents are now going shopping for their beverages out of the city to avoid the onerous tax.


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