Soon-To-Be Proposed Sugary Drink Tax In Seattle Won’t Apply To Starbucks

Image courtesy of J-J-W

Seattle could soon be joining the ranks of Philadelphia, Chicago, Boulder, CO, Albany and Berkeley, CA, and a handful of other cities in charging consumers a little extra when they purchase a sugary drink. But the home of Starbucks will reportedly provide some relief for java lovers, as coffee shops will be exempt from a proposed rule on sweet beverages.

Seattle mayor Ed Murray announced during his state of the city address this week that he plans to propose a $.02-tax on distributors of sugar-sweetened drinks.

While full details of the planned tax haven’t been released, a statement from the mayor’s office notes that the tax would generate an estimated $16 million each year going toward educational and health programs for students of color.

The tax would apply to sugary drinks that include liquids with a specified amount of caloric sweetener, syrups and powders that are used to prepare sugary beverages, such as some forms of soda, energy drinks, juice, and sweetened teas.

The planned tax would not cover in-store prepared coffee beverages, such as those made at Starbucks or other coffee shops. However, pre-bottled beverages from Starbucks and other companies would be covered by the tax.

It also wouldn’t apply to beverages that are 100% juice, formula, medicine, and “diet” beverages.

The mayor’s office cited other cities’ sugary drink taxes as evidence that it could improve residents’ health.

“A similar tax in Berkeley, CA, reduced the consumption of sugary drinks by 20%,” the office said in a statement, noting that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found soda taxes are effective in reversing the obesity epidemic.

In fact, last October, the World Health Organization recommended that countries use so-called sugary drink taxes to help combat obesity and other health issues.

While Murray has yet to actually introduce the tax proposal, the Seattle Business Journal reports that those in the soda industry are already gearing up for a fight.

“Seattle taxpayers and small businesses are certainly in favor of making sure all Seattle students have equal opportunities to succeed in school,” the Washington Beverage Association said. “But there has to be a better way to do this than with a highly regressive tax that makes prices skyrocket on working families and hurts Seattle small businesses.”

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.