Letters: Soda tax - a win-win or a head-scratcher?

ISSUE | SODA TAX

Honickman is

civic-minded

While the article "Bottling king in thick of fight" (Sunday) mentioned many of the philanthropic contributions of Harold and Lynne Honickman, let me mention their work in trying to combat gun violence, the scourge of many of our neighborhoods. In starting Moms Against Guns and joining forces with CeaseFire PA while I served as president of the board, the Honickmans played an important role on an issue of critical importance to Philadelphia and the commonwealth.

|Phil Goldsmith, Havertown, pgold4110@gmail.com

A promising plan for health, education

Mayor Kenney's proposed 3-cents-an-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages has the potential to make a difference in the lives of Philadelphia children by providing universal prekindergarten.

The mayor is right to put the target on soda: Public-health experts agree that soda and other sugary drinks are huge contributors to diseases, including diabetes and heart disease, and lack nutritional benefits. We all should drink more water and less soda, and this tax and the public discussion that surrounds it will encourage people to rethink their choices.

Those who want to avoid the tax could switch to healthier beverages and start healthy habits that would lead to longer, healthier lives. Those who choose to keep drinking soda would do a world of good for Philadelphia's children by giving them an early start at a good education.

|Yael Lehmann, executive director, The Food Trust, Philadelphia, ylehmann@thefoodtrust.org

Tax all sugar

With the 2-cents-, 21/2-cents-, and 3-cents-an-ounce tax numbers being thrown around by City Council and Mayor Kenney ("City Council has its own soda-tax numbers," Tuesday), has anyone actually thought about what they are taxing?

Case in point: I go into a pizza shop, order a slice and a soda, and get a 16-ounce drink filled with ice. If I were to remove the ice, I'd have a 4-ounce drink. Therefore, I'm paying tax on the ice.

When I add sugar to a glass of iced tea, would that make it a taxed drink? Some fast-food eateries do not charge seniors for beverages; would they need to pay the tax? Will there be a tax on refills?

Why not just tax the sugar industry? Then everyone would get to lose weight.

|Tom Borai, Audubon, yourout3@verizon.net

A helping hand vs. a punch to the gut

City Councilman Bobby Henon may have an irony deficiency ("City tax break for food-makers eyed," April 1). How else to explain his proposed bill to give food manufacturers who move their operations into the city a 10-year tax abatement while trying to drive Coca-Cola and Pepsi out of town through his support of a regressive sugary-drinks tax?

Amoroso's Baking Co., Mondelez (makers of Oreo cookies and Ritz crackers), and other companies left the city, taking hundreds of jobs with them, because of the city's astronomical business taxes. Mayor Kenney's proposed sugary-drinks tax would lead to more job losses, a diminished tax base, and a potential departure of more major businesses.

How would Henon - a former International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers official - like it if a sugary-drinks tax were applied to all sugar-infused foods sold in the city, including Tastykakes? The Tastykake plant employs many of his Local 98 brothers and sisters.

A sugary-drinks tax would punish one industry and would be an unreliable source of revenue. The mayor's goals of universal pre-K, renovated recreation centers, and community schools are laudable, but he and Council need to find a better way to fund them.

|Daniel H. Grace, secretary/treasurer, Teamsters Local 830, Philadelphia, dgrace@team830.org