Is it a mere coincidence that just as Philadelphia passes a soda tax, a “Buffalove” billboard pops up in Buffalo? I took the photo of the billboard last evening on Elmwood Avenue. Moments later I was checking out the national news when I came across the soda industry’s not-so-sugar coated defeat.
The DailyMail reports that the soda industry has already spent multi-millions to block the tax, a tactic that has worked very well until now. Philadelphia has become a pioneer in the battle against selling low cost sodas, which contributes to a number health issues, especially in poor communities. Opponents to the tax (led by the soda industry) feel that it’s unfair to tax a ‘feel good’ product that everyone should have access to.
In a brilliant maneuver, Philadelphia proposed to take the $90 million that it will make from the tax revenue, and apply it to funding prekindergarten, community schools and recreation centers. Now that is something that more cities should get behind. Just think what Buffalo could do with the millions of dollars that would roll in. There would be a lot of benefits all around, from alleviating health risks in low income households to funding school programs and public parks.
I drink an occasional soda here and there, in moderation of course. I’m not anti-soda. But I am aware of the issues that our nation faces when it comes to obesity and health problems. I feel that taxing a can of soda 16¢ would not make much of a dent in anyone’s decision to purchase a soda. The soda industry is of course fearful that once the tax is passed, more taxes will follow. It should be up to the community to decided what is best, obviously. I’m happy for Philadelphia. The city got creative by incentivizing its people with incredible payback for its schools.
While Pepsi spreads its “Buffalove” campaign around Buffalo, maybe we should all see $ signs when we look at these billboards. After all, if I knew that our schools and parks were benefitting, every time someone at the store bought a soda, then I would actually be able to feel that “Buffalove” in the form of enhanced public amenities.