The Seattle Times,
August 18, 2019-
Seattle is well into its second year of the Sweetened Beverage Tax. Based on what we’ve learned so far, the tax is functioning as intended on its first goal: Growing programs that increase healthy food access and support for child health and early learning. We are waiting to learn whether the tax will meet its other goal: Reducing sales of sugary beverages. The City Council adopted the tax in June 2017 to improve the health of Seattle residents, and address persistent health and education inequities. The measure also created the Sweetened Beverage Tax Community Advisory Board, which makes community-informed recommendations to the city about investing tax revenues to meet the goals identified above. The board prioritizes programs that advance equity and are likely to improve community well-being.
Last week the board published its first report, which provides the first comprehensive picture of how the tax revenues are being used. The tax is raising substantial money: $22.5 million in 2018 and $10.5 million in the first half of 2019. Over that span, tax revenues were stable, mirroring the experiences of Berkeley, California; Philadelphia; and Boulder, Colorado — other cities that have enacted similar taxes.