The billionaire's planned backing raises the stakes for the powerful beverage industry, which has lobbied hard to defeat numerous 43 municipal and state-level attempts to implement a soda tax that have failed since 2008.
Philadelphia is the first major city in the United States to introduce a soda tax: starting next year, it will require 0.5 dollar for ever liter of soda, despite retailers and manufacturers trying to fight the decision every step of the way. Instead, he pushed the tax as an easy way to fund prekindergarten and other city services. It added: "The fact remains that these taxes are discriminatory and highly unpopular - not only with Philadelphians, but with all Americans".
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney played down such a scenario.
He added that the new tax "will help improve the education, health, and prosperity of children and families all across our city for years to come".
All proceeds from the new beverage tax will go directly towards initiatives like bolstering flagging community resources, revitalizing education, and generally supporting the city's increased services to the impoverished part of its populace.
A city council committee voted on June 8 to approve the tax, which is earmarked to fund expanded pre-K and community schools, as well as improvements for the city's parks, libraries and recreation centers. Some restaurants, the ABA, grocery stores, and the Teamsters Union that includes beverage truck drivers, are all against the tax.
However, despite the fervent opposition, the framing of the tax makes it hard to deny-Philadelphia is a city that has a significant amount of its population facing poverty, and the tax could help alleviate that problem by providing access to education and community resources.
Adding to the absurdity of this tax, Philly's treats diet soda and full sugar alike, failing to even distinguish between sugary drinks, which, like all caloric food and beverages, can contribute to obesity, and zero or low calorie beverages. Although this was the primary argument used in favor of the law, public health advocates also promoted the profound impact the law could have on the health of Philadelphia residents.
Back in 2014, Berkeley, California, became the first city in the country to pass a soda tax. The soda industry spent millions of dollars in advertising against it, arguing it will be costly to consumers.
Philadelphia's city council weighed a sugary beverage tax in 2010 and again in 2011, but the measure failed both times. The tax, which the city plans to start collecting on January 1, 2017, is expected to raise about $91 million annually.