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After Philly soda tax, four more U.S. cities follow suit

Soda taxes passed in California and Colorado cities

Just five months after Philadelphia became the first major U.S. city in the country to pass a soda tax, four other cities have followed suit.

Three Bay Area cities including San Francisco, Oakland, and Albany in California passed ballots in yesterday’s election that will institute a penny-per-ounce tax on distributors of sugary drinks. Boulder, Colorado’s ballot, which will levy a two-cents-per-ounce tax on distributors, also passed.

The moves come after Philly passed a 1.5-cent soda tax in June, becoming the second U.S. city after Berkeley, California and the first major city to pass a soda tax. The tax set a precedent for the other cities to put the soda tax on their November 8 ballots.

But instead of leveraging Philly’s soda tax as a public health fight against the beverage industry, Mayor Jim Kenney presented it as an economic win for the city that will target $300 million to fund early education, parks and recreation, cultural institutions, and helping the homeless.

The four cities that just passed their respective soda taxes have not officially revealed how they will use the funds generated, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Meanwhile, the soda industry has filed a lawsuit against the city of Philadelphia. Mayor Kenney recently told Vox that he’s moving forward despite the legal actions:

[W]e’re moving ahead. We are starting our pre-K enrollment [which is funded with the help of the soda tax revenue]. We are getting our documents together on our borrowings for our parks, recreation centers, and libraries. We’re working with council to come up with a community benefits program for employment … We have not stopped to wait to see what happens with this lawsuit.

Earlier this week, Kenney’s administration hired four staff members for his ReBuild Philadelphia program, which will be funded by the sweetened beverage tax and spend the next six years improving the city’s infrastructure.

And for what it’s worth, a recent Pew survey that found that 54 percent of Philadelphians surveyed said they were pleased with the passing of the soda tax.