Soda tax still catches shoppers by surprise

Philadelphia's soda tax is now in effect. Many consumers were surprised this week when they were charged higher prices

Philadelphians have known a new soda tax was coming since June, when Mayor Kenney signed into law a bill placing a 1.5-cent-per-ounce levy on sugary drinks, including diet beverages.

That tax, which is levied at the distributor level but was expected to be passed on to consumers, went into effect Sunday at the start of the new year. As 2016 ended, outreach teams were making stops around the city to alert store owners about the new tax.

But despite those efforts and the months of contentious debate that preceded City Council's vote passing the tax, many consumers have still been surprised this week when they were charged higher prices for sweetened beverages.

Photos and observations of receipts and store displays reflecting new, higher prices were generating debate on social media.

Some Philadelphians expressed relief at not having a soda habit, or indicated they might start drinking less of the taxed beverages.

Others suggested they would start shopping for sweetened drinks elsewhere

And some wondered whether stores were simply using the new levy as an excuse to raise prices.

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