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New year, new tax: Seattle starts taxing sweetened drinks

Distributors will now be taxed 1.75/fluid ounce on all sugary drinks sold across Seattle (KOMO News) 

SEATTLE -- Overnight, soda and sugary drinks just got a little pricier across Seattle.

Distributors will now be taxed 1.75/fluid ounce on all sugary drinks sold across the city. Consumers will feel the burden at convenience stores, gas stations and restaurants.

A 12-pack of soda will now cost an extra $2.52. A single 20-ounce beverage will increase by 35 cents.

The Seattle City Council passed the new tax in June. Critics fear it will hurt store owners and low-income shoppers.

"This puts another nail in the coffin for working families trying to afford and raise their families in Seattle," said Jim Desler, spokesperson with Keep Seattle Livable for All.

The group has plastered signs and handouts at four-hundred Seattle businesses educating consumers and created a 1-800 phone number for concerned shoppers to call. The coalitions says they will then pass on the complaints to the City Council.

The City says the tax will raise $15 million in the first year to go toward healthy-eating and education programs.

In addition, researchers from the University of Washington are studying the impact of the new tax, focusing on consumer and specifically children's drinking habits.

"There's some good literature suggesting a impact of soda and sugary drinks of risk for obesity," said Jesse Jones-Smith, a researcher with the University of Washington School of Public Health.

Seattle now joins cities in Mexico as well as Philadelphia and Berkeley, California to implement a soda tax.

Jones-Smith says initial results indicate store bottom lines in Berkeley and Philadelphia are not taking a hit to their bottom line.

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