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Harvard Researchers Say Philly Soda Tax Could Save $197 Million

By Chelsea Lacey-Mabe

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- We've heard the commercials—the ones against the Philly soda tax. The American Beverage Association's (ABA) No Philly Grocery Tax Coalition believes consumers shouldn't have to pay the tax to help fund the city's Universal Pre-K initiative, saying the tax targets the poor and could affect jobs.

The tax would make 3 cents per ounce the standard but those against the proposal argue, "3 cents adds up fast."

A new study from Harvard University, funded by the JPB Foundation and Healthy Food America is arguing the tax could actually save money, consumers' waistlines and lives.

The researchers looked at consumption estimates of sugar-sweetened beverages in 2015 and adjusted the numbers to reflect what consumption levels are like in Philadelphia for adults and children older than two.

Next, they estimated the costs of implementing the tax which included labor costs for municipal tax department administrators and audit expenses.

Finally, they simulated the Philadelphia population from 2015 to 2025, using several surveys including the US Census and the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.

According to their analysis the soda tax would reduce Philadelphians intake of sugar-sweetened beverages, prevent 36,000 cases of diabetes and save $197 million by 2025.

This study may help proponents of the tax measure who are trying to get the bill signed into law. City Council will need nine votes to approve the tax when they vote on the issue in June.

Community members have another chance to voice their concerns about the tax in the meantime at the next City Hall budget hearing scheduled for Wednesday, May 4.

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