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“They talk about disposable income, saying people in D.C. will go shop elsewhere for food,” Mr. Allen said. “D.C. doesn’t have a sales tax on fresh food. They don’t account for that.”

Mr. Allen argued that the money on transportation to shop outside the city would more than offset the bag tax.

Mr. Allen said the city measure wasn’t so much a tax as a fee — one that can be avoided if customers remember to bring reusable bags on shopping trips.

“When you are paying taxes, that is something that you do not get to avoid,” Mr. Allen said. “You as a consumer do choose here. If you don’t want to pay 5 cents, you never have to.”