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Sugary drinks targeted in new Washington state tax proposal

UPDATED: Tue., Feb. 23, 2021

Associated Press

OLYMPIA – A tax proposal under debate by Washington state lawmakers could raise the price of soda, juice and sweetened coffee drinks.

A state Senate bill would charge beverage distributors 1.75 cents for every ounce of a sweetened drink that has more than 20 calories in a 12-ounce serving, KING-TV reported Monday.

The measure modeled after a similar ordinance in Seattle would increase the cost of a 12-ounce can of regular soda by 21 cents.

Sponsors of the bill said Washington would have the first statewide tax on sweet drinks.

Funds raised by the tax would support public health programs and fund what backers called a health equity account for communities of color.

“It’s both a tool for improving health outcomes and raising critical funds to invest in communities that have long experienced health inequities,” said Dr. Ruchi Kapoor of the American Heart Association, who testified in favor of the proposal.

Lawmakers also heard testimony from business owners and grocery, food and beverage industry representatives who said the tax would be bad for sales.

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