Protesters rally against sugary drink tax in Center City

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Business owners, soda workers and consumers gathered Wednesday in Center City to protest the city's proposed tax on sugary drinks. (WPVI)

Business owners, soda workers and consumers gathered Wednesday in Center City to protest the city's proposed tax on sugary drinks.

Chopper 6 was live over City Hall around 4 p.m.

Drivers from soda companies, including Canada Dry and Cola-Cola, and union workers could be heard honking their horns in support of the protesters as they circled City Hall.

The 3-cents-per-ounce tax has been a source of controversy for months.

Supporters say the tax dollars will fund much needed programs like pre-K and others across the city.

But many of the protesters say the tax will only hurt their wallets and, in time, their bottom lines.

"It's going to raise the prices. People are going to go outside to go eat so it's just one of those things," said Veng Ting, business owner. "We want to keep the prices low so they come visit us."

"We haven't recovered yet from the cigarette taxes, and now we got another tax coming from the soda tax, sugar tax," said Hag Chughtai, 7-Eleven franchiser. "Which is just too much."

"Each day I go to the store and buy a can of soda, and if I had to pay that much, I would run out of so much money," said Benjamin Martinez, customer.

"Whether (Mayor Kenney) is listening or not, were out here and were going to make a point," said Chris Wood, Pepsi worker. "No more taxes. It's time to stop squeezing the middle class."

The protest was held ahead of a public hearing at City Hall, during which both supporters and opponents expressed their opinions.

Supporters say critics need to look at the bigger picture.

"It doesn't seem like that much for a good cause," said Deztanee Moore of West Philadelphia. "It's for something that matters, and it's for the kids."

"This is the best and fairest way to do it, and we need to have those programs now," said Kevin Feely, Philadelphians for a Fair Future. "We can't wait anymore."

But critics say the money needs to come from somewhere else, and not off their backs.

"We're talking about a lot of stores are going to close down," said Adam Xu, Chairman of Asian American Licensed Beverage Association. "It's going to cut our store business, and also the consumers."

"If they pass this soda tax, next week it's going to be cakes, it's going to be potato chips," said Robert McKee, Pepsi worker. "Eventually, it's going to be healthy foods."

The fate of the soda tax ultimately lies with City Council, who will make their decision in June.

Related Topics:
philadelphia newstaxesjim kenneyprotestphiladelphia city councilphiladelphia city hallCenter City Philadelphia
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