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Soda tax petition pulled

March 19, 2018

Oregon Prosperity Project,

The Coalition for Healthy Kids and Education, a PAC organized to support a tax of 1.5 cents to each ounce of soda in Multnomah County announced in February the coalition would not put the tax on the November ballot. This delay follows an announcement in November of 2017 to postpone the original initiative to November of 2018.

Several California and East Coast cities, and recently Seattle have imposed the drink taxes, but traction has slowed. The tax efforts have been fueled by a campaign funded in part by billionaire ex-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Billionaire John Arnold through advocacy organization, Action Now Initiative has also joined in the Oregon effort. Bloomberg and Arnold put close to $900,000 in the coalition in 2017 to cover costs of signature gathering to put a measure on the ballot. Even with this level of funding and support from a coalition of health-related organizations, the group has not moved forward.

The sugary beverage tax has been posed across local jurisdictions in the nation who are aiming to find health initiatives and ways to raise revenues to offset growing health care and pension costs, among other expenses. While consumption has declined in some cities with similar taxes, it is challenging to point to real health benefits directly correlated with the tax. In Philadelphia, bottlers and merchants found sales drop in products subject to the tax, but also that in retail stores, there were large increases in sale of sugary drink powders not subject to the tax. To read the economic impact of the Philadelphia beverage tax, click here.

The fate of this initiative is not clear in Oregon, but multiple delays suggests the VOTE would be unfavorable.

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