DALLAS, Sept 14, 2016 — Philadelphia leaders voted earlier this year to expand early childhood education access and to provide additional funding for parks and recreation. They chose to fund that work through a 1.5 cents per ounce soda tax. The American Heart Association was proud to be a leader in the support of these initiatives, proud of the courageous action taken by the council and proud of Mayor Kenney’s leadership. Their vote was an important vote to help improve the health of Philadelphia’s kids.
The announcement today that the American Beverage Association has filed a lawsuit to block implementation of the soda tax, while expected, is deeply disappointing. The trade association representing America’s leading beverage companies—Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Dr. Pepper—shouldn’t be actively working to defund early childhood education and parks and recreation opportunities for Philadelphia’s families. The American Heart Association looks forward to working with the public health community to support the city of Philadelphia as it defends itself against this unnecessary and unfortunate lawsuit.
We are encouraged by evidence from Mexico and Berkeley, California that demonstrates that consumption of sugary drinks declines as the tax on them is increased. Results last month from Berkeley showed that sugary drink tax actually motivated people to drink fewer sugary drinks and more water in the first year.
The American Heart Association will continue to advocate aggressively for policy measures to make heart-healthy living easier in all communities. This includes supporting current sugary drink tax campaigns in California, Colorado, Alabama and Illinois.
Suzette Harris, firstname.lastname@example.org, 214-706-1173