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Seattle Approves Soda Tax

Opponents may push for special election to block effort

SEATTLE -- The Seattle City Council on Monday approved a new tax of 1.75 cents per ounce to be levied on the distributors of all sugary drinks, including carbonated soft drinks, energy drinks, fruit-based drinks, sweetened iced tea and prepackaged coffee drinks. Diet drinks and coffee drinks prepared on-premise are exempt.

Other U.S. cities, including Philadelphia; Boulder, Colo.; and San Francisco, Oakland and Albany, Calif.; have approved taxing sugary drinks to combat obesity while also raising money for city programs.

A University of California at Berkeley study reported that its city's soft-drink tax resulted in low-income residents consuming 21% less soda.

In Seattle, businesses and labor groups argued against the new tax, saying it would have a detrimental effect on small businesses.

The tax will begin being collected next year, unless opponents are successful in creating and passing a referendum to block it.

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