The Seattle City Council passed a tax on sugary beverages, including soda, this week after months of debate that shifted the tax’s focus from primarily education to including access to nutrition.
Mayor Ed Murray signed the bill into law on Wednesday.
The city expects to collect $15 million revenue from this measure, which will be split between addressing education disparities and healthy food programs.
The implemented tax will impose 1.75 cents per ounce, which would be about $1.18 per 2-liter bottle.
Supporters told the Seattle Globalist in May that their support for the tax isn’t just because it raises money for programs, but also because it could discourage purchases of sugary drinks.
The decision was celebrated by various health advocating organizations like the American Heart Association and the Seattle Healthy Kids Coalition, who say they hope the tax will result in improvements in health.
Mary Ann Bauman, national board member of the American Heart Association who lives in Seattle, said the tax would help address the public health epidemics of obesity and Type 2 diabetes.
“Children who drink at least one serving of sugary drinks per day have 55 percent increased odds of being overweight or obese. Adopting this tax will give our kids a healthy start in life and set them on a path to success,” Bauman said in a prepared statement.
Got Green, a South Seattle-based organization focused on environmental, racial and economic justice, also applauded the measure. The group successfully petitioned for 50 percent of the soda tax revenue to go towards the city’s Fresh Bucks program — a dollar-to-dollar match program for EBT/SNAP users to buy fresh produce at farmers markets in Seattle and surrounding areas .
“I am a working mom with three kids who need healthy food to lead healthy lives. I worked hard to help shape the reinvestments on this tax for the benefit of my family and the tens of thousands of others who will be able to pay for healthier meals as a result of this new law,” said Tammy Nguyen, Got Green Food Access Co-Organizer, in a prepared statement.
Ryan Murphy, Washington state Mobilization Manager for Save the Children Action Network, in a prepared statement, supported the inclusion of funding toward education.
“This tax will allocate funding for evidence-based programs to reduce the disparities in outcomes for children and families based on race, gender, or other socioeconomic factors so that all children are prepared for kindergarten, as well as increase funding for capital projects supporting classroom facilities for the Seattle Preschool Program,” Murphy said.
The measure passed in a 7-1 vote, with Councilmember Lisa Herbold voting against it.
The Seattle Times reported that the council did not accept Herbold’s amendments to lower the rate and to include diet soda and lattes. She said the tax would hit poor families the hardest. Councilmember Kshama Sawant was absent, according to the Times.
Murray at Wednesday’s signing said he was proud to support the legislation, though he wished the tax included diet drinks as well, according to KING5 news.
Opponents included retailers and soda distributors, who said the tax could result in a loss of jobs, the station reported.