Seattle's new 'Soda Tax' takes effect January 1

Seattle's tax on sugary drinks goes into effect on Monday, January 1. The new tax impacts soda, sports and energy drinks, and sweetened iced teas. It does not apply to diet soda or coffee drinks. (Photo: KOMO News)

SEATTLE (KOMO) - Seattle's tax on sugary drinks goes into effect on Monday, Jan. 1.

The signs are already up in grocery stores across the city, letting shoppers know about the new soda tax.

“I drink a lot of soda. It's all right. Hopefully I'll cut down on it," said Seattle resident Nisarg Shah.

Whether you drink a lot of soda or not, lots of people are curious about what the new soda tax will do for the City of Seattle. The city said the tax will generate about $15 million in the first year.

As part of the soda tax, shoppers will pay an extra 1.75 cents per ounce on sweetened beverages. So, for a 20 ounce bottle of soda, expect to pay an extra 35 cents.

The new tax impacts soda, sports, energy drinks, sugary coffee drinks and sweetened iced teas. It does not apply to diet soda or coffee drinks that are not sweetened.

“I don't really mind. I don't drink much soda myself. It's kind of harmful to the health of most people,” said Seth Williams-Welch of Seattle.

Proponents claim the soda tax will help lower rates of obesity and diabetes.

A team of local researchers from the University of Washington and Public Health Seattle & King County will study the impact of the new tax and how it effects buying and drinking habits.

“(That includes) how the tax impacts the sugary drink consumption among children in particular,” said Jesse Jones-Smith, with the University of Washington School of Public Health.

The city of Seattle is providing $500,000 each year over four years for the study.

“We're most excited to see what does happen,” said Jones-Smith. “And based on data from other cities, we do hypothesize people will decrease their consumption of these taxed sugary drinks. In terms of whether this is a successful policy, we would want to see money raised and decrease in consumption of sugary drinks."

But, not everyone is on board with the idea of a soda tax.

“We don't drink soda. I don't know if taxing soda is the right approach,” said Sebastian S.R. “Taxing cigarette smoking hasn't cut back on smoking cigarettes has it?"

“Seattle should be more about promoting drinking water and making that affordable than making soda more expensive,” said parent Claudia Lee.

Several other cities have already implemented the soda tax including Philadelphia, Boulder, Colo., Oakland, and Berkeley, Calif.

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