Letters: Soda tax, pro and con

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Beverages are displayed at a demonstration against the proposed sugary-drinks tax outside City Hall on Wednesday.

ISSUE | SODA TAX

Countering columnist's critique of levy

The Kenney administration would like to address several points in Joel Naroff's column about the proposed 3-cents-an-ounce sugary-beverage tax ("Pre-K quandary," May 1):

The Department of Revenue looked at 13 studies of the effect of increased price on demand, or elasticity; the range was from -.8 to -1.21, so we decided on the average, -1 (a 1 percent price increase would result in a 1 percent drop in demand). Council members and reporters have been briefed on this methodology.

Since this is a tax on distributors, not a sales tax on consumers, the price increase will depend on the amount companies pass on to consumers. It is incorrect to say that prices will increase by 55 percent.

Our revenue projections accounted not only for consumers' income but for gender, age, and race/ethnicity.

The policy does not assume that all retailers buy only from distributors in Philadelphia. Distributors, regardless of where they are based, will be taxed when they sell to city retailers.

|Marisa G. Waxman, first deputy commissioner, Department of Revenue, Philadelphia

There are better ways to fight obesity

Mike Newall's column suggested that Philadelphia's solution to obesity is taxing soda at 3 cents an ounce ("Big Soda spends in bid to sway vote," May 1). The Food Marketing Institute reports that there are more than 42,000 products in supermarkets. Yet despite statistics showing declining consumption, sodas are singled out as though they contribute uniquely to obesity and diabetes.

As a registered dietitian, I assert that many factors contribute to these public-health challenges, such as lack of exercise and sleep, medical and genetic conditions, and overconsumption of calories. All foods and beverages can fit within a balanced lifestyle when consumed in moderation and in appropriate portion sizes, and when combined with physical activity.

If we want to address obesity, taxes aren't the solution. Science and real-world data have established that. And if we want to raise revenue for universal pre-K, let's look at fair funding mechanisms that will support children for the long haul rather than taxing one product category.

|Lisa Katic, principal, K Consulting, Alexandra, Va, lkatic@kconsultingonline.com

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