A Look at the Philly "Soda" Tax From a Philadelphian



The Philly "Soda" Tax may be old news to non-Philadelphians. But, those who live in and near Philadelphia know that they still hear about it all the time. 

I hear advertisements about it on the radio, watch commercials about it on T.V., and read signs about it in stores.  

I'll confess...I am not originally a Philadelphian. When I first heard of the plans for the Philly Soda Tax, I was living in the suburbs. I didn’t think it would affect me but I thought it could be a decent idea. 

Even when I moved to Philly, I thought it wouldn’t affect me. I don’t drink soda. I don’t buy lemonade, sweet tea, cranberry cocktail, or the other beverages frequently discussed.

But I don’t think most articles pointed out that even “healthy” beverages were being taxed.
Most non-dairy milks are included in the soda tax. There’s a $1 “soda” tax on a quart of soymilk. There’s also a 26 cent “soda” tax on a pint of kombucha, drinking vinegar, or fermented water. 

None of those things are soda. None of those things probably even come to your mind when someone says “sugar sweetened beverage.” That’s what the tax really is: a sugar sweetened beverage tax, not a soda tax.

Several non-soda beverages taxed as part of the "soda" tax.
So, I made the mistake and bought soymilk and fermented water (which has 4 grams of sugar added to help it ferment). All of them are things that I, as a registered dietitian nutritionist, thought were fairly healthy. 

I was annoyed when I realized how much extra my grocery bill was and why. I thought the point of the tax was to discourage people from unhealthy purchases. 

But, of course, that’s not the point of the tax. 

The point is to raise money for pre-kindergarten, which it as done.

It hasn’t gotten me to stop drinking a select few sugar sweetened beverages...

But it might have changed where I buy them…On a recent trip to the store, I said to myself, “I’ll wait and buy them at the Giant instead” which is technically across the Philadelphia border and not subject to the tax.

Let's be honest...The tax adds up.


I shouldn't be forced to drink unsweetened soymilk which I find unappetizing. So, instead, the solution to saving money becomes: shop elsewhere. 

I can. I literally live on the border; walk across the street and I'm not in Philly. So, for me, it was an easy choice: continue purchasing sugar sweetened beverages, just not in Philly. 


Your Turn: Do you live where there's a beverage tax? If so, how does it affect you? If not, how would you feel if your area implemented one?

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