A Proposed Tax on Soda Is Proving There’s No More Room for Sugar-Coating

Sugar has developed a bad rap in recent months. While it’s always had its fair share of critics, its negative effects on health seem to populate more headlines today than they have in previous years, particularly to those who don’t closely follow health-related topics in the media. But even for Hip-Hop fans, the harsh realities of what can happen as a result of extensive sugar consumption have become hard to ignore. Phife Dawg publicly acknowledge his addiction to sugary beverages like soda, and his tragic passing serves as a reminder that too much sugar consumption results in a spike of blood glucose levels, which can eventually lead to renal disease and diabetes. Phife’s death – and the deaths, diagnoses, and illness of millions of Americans – has not fallen on deaf ears, and fundraisers for organizations like the National Kidney Foundation have been spurred by fans of Phife and by Freeway, who has been battling kidney disease.  But now Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is leading a bold new charge in the fight to help eradicate sugar-related health issues: a proposed citywide tax on soda.

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The details of Philly’s proposal are outlined by NPR in a piece for the outlet’s “The Salt” column, which focuses on food-related news. “Taxing Sugar: 5 Things You Need to Know About Philly’s Proposed Soda Tax” begins by informing readers that today (June 9), the Philadelphia City Council voted to “approve a 1.5 cents-per-ounce surcharge on sweetened beverages.” Like the sales tax on items such as cigarettes, this measure is meant to discourage people from purchasing sugary drinks and if the final vote on June 16 lands in favor of the tax’s supporters, Philadelphia would become the first major United States city with such a fee.

As cited in the article, “the estimated $91 million tax revenue over the next year would be used to fund the city’s education programs, including expanded prekindergarten. It would also pay for park improvements and help pad the city’s general fund.” For supporters of the proposal, the tax revenue resulting from helping keep people healthier makes the decision a no-brainer, but there are some opponents. Predictably, the American Beverage Association is staunchly against the measure, arguing that a tax would be detrimental to much of the beverage industry. And, while the argument that a tax would only bring an onus onto the shoulders of the consumer brings up a fair point, it does appear that supporters have the advantage of medical research behind them.


If the trend in Philadelphia catches on, Sprite’s recent ad campaign featuring Drake, Nas, Rakim, and others may prove to be the last time Hip-Hop and soda join forces.