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Coca-Cola Blames Philly Layoffs On Soda Tax

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Coca-Cola says it's eliminating 40 positions in Philadelphia due to a drop in sales, which it blames on the sweetened beverage tax, but the mayor's office is skeptical.

Coke posted a story on its website quoting the local bottler as saying sales are down 32% in the city since the tax took effect on January 1st. The company declined an interview request about the figures.

Lauren Hitt, a spokeswoman for Mayor Kenney, notes that Coke this week announced 1200 lay-offs, nationally, because of an 11% drop in sales across the country in the first quarter.

"There's no evidence," she says, "to suggest this isn't just part of that."

She also notes the beverage industry is actively engaged in litigation against the city to repeal the tax and "has repeatedly looked for opportunities to scapegoat it."

The soda tax has already raised $19 million this year, with collections steadily rising every month.

Eventually, the city projects, it will raise $91 million a year for expanded pre-K, community schools, and a rebuild of city parks, rec centers, and libraries.

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