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Pennsylvania Supreme Court to Hear Case on Soda Tax

After becoming the first major city in the United States to pass a tax law on soda and other sweetened beverages in 2016, Philadelphia now faces the potential removal of the controversial law. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court said on Tuesday it will consider the legality of the law, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

The court will determine if the 1.5-cents-per-ounce tax violates the Philadelphia law that restricts double-taxing something already levied by the state. Although the taxes were imposed on the soda distributors, and not the consumers, the price of soda and sweetened beverages increased for consumers as a result. A Pennsylvania appeals court upheld the tax after it was initially challenged in 2017.

Other major cities such as Berkeley, California, Boulder, Colorado, and Seattle, Washington, have implemented a soda tax, aimed at reducing consumption. (Chicago passed a soda tax in July of 2017 but repealed it just three months later.)

The soda tax in Philadelphia led to a decrease in consumption, according to recent data, thanks largely to raised prices. But, despite these initial results, long-term economic implications still remain unclear, Pacific Standard reported last year.

This lack of clarity can be felt in Philadelphia. City officials argue that the revenue from the tax can largely be used to develop pre-kindergarten programs and for the rebuilding of parks, the Inquirer reports, while opponents of the tax argue its economic impact on struggling local supermarkets and beverage companies is quite severe.