heart health

PHILADELPHIA. Berkeley, nonprofits & more call big beverage's soda tax lawsuit 'absurd' (Philadelphia Business Journal)

By Alison Burdo

The city of Philadelphia apparently has some friends of its own – at least two dozen nonprofits and the city of Berkeley, Calif., – filed six separate amicus briefs Friday that support the administration in its legal battle over the city's beverage tax by saying the beverage industry, which "does not lose gracefully," is putting forth "absurd" arguments.

"[The plaintiffs] legal theory would invalidate not only this tax, but potentially many other taxes and nontax initiatives that further public health and welfare by encouraging citizens to reduce their consumption of unhealthy products," according to an amicus brief filed on behalf of the American Heart Association, the American Medical Association, the National Alliance for Hispanic Health, the Public Health Law Center and 10 other organizations. Read more

PHILADELPHIA. Fifteen health organizations file in Philadelphia’s sugary drink tax (AHA News)

Fifteen health organizations filed a friend-of-the-court brief Friday in hopes that the beverage industry’s appeal of a sugar tax will fall flat.

Philadelphia’s 1.5-cent-an-ounce tax on sweetened drinks survived a major challenge in December from the beverage industry, after a city judge dismissed the group’s lawsuit. The beverage industry filed an appeal last month.

The health groups’ brief was filed by the Public Health Law Center on behalf of the American Heart Association and 14 leading public health and medical organizations, including the American Medical Association and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. The science-based filing outlines support for taxing sugary drinks in Philadelphia, which has some of the highest rates of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and obesity among large cities.

While the tax is said to have a public health impact through reduced consumption, the AHA says the revenue raised by the tax will be used in a way that has a significant impact.

The tax will be levied on distributors, not consumers. It is expected to bring in about $91 million annually, which the city plans to use to expand pre-kindergarten programs, improve parks and offer tax credits for businesses that sell healthy beverages. Read more

PHILADELPHIA. Philly beverage tax is working (Philadelphia Inquirer)

By Thomas A. Farley

In the publicity about the first month's revenue from the Philadelphia beverage tax and the howls from the soda industry, the key point has been missing: The tax is working.

Children are getting educated in prekindergarten. The city is taking the first steps toward a massive rebuilding of parks, recreation centers, and libraries. Nine community schools are helping students and their families. The city is meeting its revenue projections, and the soda industry says sugary drinks sales have declined.

Mayor Kenney predicted that all of these things would happen. And opponents, at one time or another, claimed that none of them would.

The primary goal of the beverage tax was to pay for these investments in our city's children, families, and neighborhoods. And a secondary goal was to do it in a way that battled back the city's still-growing twin epidemics of obesity and diabetes.

Critics said that you couldn't do both. If people stopped drinking soda, they said, the city wouldn't have sufficient revenue for its programs or, alternatively, if revenue came in at projections, then people weren't significantly reducing their soda consumption.

But with the city's first revenue collections on track to meet annual projections and soda sellers reporting declines, the industry's predictions have been proved wrong, and so they are now shifting to fear mongering on job loss. Read more.