Is this just the first major loss by Coke, Pepsi and other beverage companies?
The industry suffered a defeat in Baltimore, where the city council passed a 2-cent tax last week on bottled drinks such as soda, water, beer and distilled spirits, AJC reporter Jeremiah McWilliams writes.
It was a rare setback for Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Dr Pepper Snapple after months of successes in beating back “soda tax” threats around the country, McWilliams reports.
The measure in Baltimore wasn’t so much about the health issues surrounding sugary drinks — the focus of some beverage-tax supporters — as it was about tight public budgets.
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake pushed hard for the tax as a way to plug the city’s estimated $121 million budget deficit. A number of retailers and bottlers opposed the tax, which excludes juice and dairy drinks, McWilliams writes.
“We don’t want to lose,” said Kevin Keane, senior vice president of public affairs for the American Beverage Association, which represents companies that make soft drinks, bottled water, sports and energy drinks and ready-to-drink teas. “But if you look, you certainly couldn’t call it a complete loss.”
He noted that the tax is set to expire in three years, applies to alcohol as well as soft drinks, and falls short of the 4-cent levy originally sought.
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