The Pop in Prices is Soda-Pressing

Distributors of sugary beverages in Seattle are now subject to pay $1.75 more per ounce.

To kick off the new year, Seattle has placed a tax on sweetened beverages. The tax adds an extra $1.75 per ounce on the distribution of sugary drinks like soda and Gatorade. Throughout Seattle, roughly 21 cents is charged per 12-ounce can or bottle. The aim of the taxation is to promote healthier consumption habits while creating revenue for free education. It will also help the city provide low income families and communities of color access to healthier foods.

The soda tax was passed in July 2017 and took full effect at the start of the new year. A case of Gatorade that cost $16 in December of 2017 now costs $26. Syrups used in fountain drinks also face taxation.

However, not all sweetened drinks are taxed by the city. Diet soda, baby formula, medicine, and 100 percent fruit juice were all exempted by the city council. Sweetened milk drinks are also free of tax along with coffee flavoring.

At Seattle stores, there are notices informing customers of the newly enforced tax in the soda section. Costco in particular has signs encouraging customers to purchase soda out of city limits in order to avoid the tax. It is estimated that the tax will generate around $15 milion for the city in the first year.

The tax revenue provides monetary support to the local Fresh Bucks Program, a program which aims to make healthier foods more affordable. Food stamps will be distributed allowing fresh fruits and vegetables to be purchased at grocery stores.

Some Seattleites aren’t fond of the new tax, especially avid soda drinkers.

“I love soda, but can’t really afford it anymore,” junior Sebastian Miller said.

The city also plans to see an improvement in eating habits. In a recent King County study, it was found that around 21 percent of Seattle students are overweight or obese. Sodas and sweet drinks are big contributors to unhealthy weight due to their high sugar content.

“I like the new tax,” senior Aidan McGlynn said. “Sugar can be just as addictive as drugs and alcohol, water should be your go-to.”

With increased cost, soda is projected to see a decline in customer consumption — leading to weight loss.

Not everyone thinks that the new tax will change their diet.

“Even if soda is more expensive, I’m still going to buy it and drink it,” senior Hayden Grow said.

Other proponents of the tax aren’t as optimistic and view it as potentially harmful to the city. Small businesses will have to pay more for sweetened beverages, potentially putting jobs on the line.

“I don’t like the government taxing things that consumers purchase as a necessity,” senior Charlie Hepler said.

Untaxed soda is often cheaper than bottled water making it the more reasonable to purchase.

Seattle isn’t alone when it comes to the sweetened beverage tax. Other cities with a soda tax include Berkeley, Philadelphia, and Chicago.

If you are looking to find reduced or untaxed soda in Seattle, look to your local soda manufacturer. Some small businesses can be exempt from the tax, allowing you to enjoy a cheap soft drink. Stores out of the Seattle city limits can still sell untaxed soda and sweet beverages as well.

Prices increase as volume increases, a 36 ounce can now $7.56 cents more expensive

Photo By: Luke Notkin

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