Support from 15 National Organizations for Philadelphia Sugary Drink Tax

March 10, 2017

Washington, D.C., March 10, 2017 — In a friend-of-the-court brief filed today with the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania in the case of Lora Jean Williams et al. v. City of Philadelphia et al., leading groups working to improve the health of communities provide scientific evidence of the severe consequences of sugary drinks and their impact in Philadelphia.

The brief from the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Medical Association, ChangeLab Solutions, The Food Trust, Healthy Food America,  MomsRising, National Alliance for Hispanic Health, National Association of Chronic Disease Directors, National Association of County and City Health Officials, National Association of Local Boards of Health, Notah Begay III Foundation, Pennsylvania Medical Society, Philadelphia County Medical Society, Public Health Law Center, argues that the City of Philadelphia is within its rights to govern for the public’s health and welfare and the beverage tax will benefit the citizens of Philadelphia in decreasing consumption of unhealthy beverages and improving services that impact health. The brief was written by the Public Health Law Center with support from the American Heart Association.

Following is a statement from the organizations:

“The evidence is clear that sugary drinks are a major contributor to the increasing rates of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. In Philadelphia, diabetes and heart disease are far too common, unfortunately having the highest rates of the ten largest cities in the country for adult diabetes and premature cardiovascular mortality rates. In addition, sugary drinks contribute to obesity, which is clearly associated with an increased risk of cancer development and recurrence, as well as decreased risk of survival, for many cancers. 

“The brief argues that state law does not preempt the city’s authority in this area. Philadelphia is working to protect the public health and acted within its legal ability in placing a tax on the distribution of this product.

“The City of Philadelphia’s tax revenue will improve places where families can be active together in improved parks and recreation centers, gather and learn in renovated libraries and help young children grow and learn through Pre-K programs. Philadelphia has demonstrated innovative strategies for improving population health and was the first city to reduce racial disparities in youth obesity rates.

“Consuming sugary drinks, such as fruit drinks with added sugar, sports drinks, and soda, poses a real health risk to kids. While the American Heart Association recommends no more than one sugary drink a week for children over the age of two, across the country, children today are consuming up to ten times that amount. Philadelphia’s tax on sugary drinks has the potential to change lives for the better – preventing chronic disease and extending quality of life by simply incentivizing families to choose health.”