Cook County Board Overwhelmingly Votes To Repeal Soda Tax

Cook County Commissioners Sour on Sugary Drinks Tax

A plan to repeal Cook County's sweetened beverage tax is expected to pass its final hurdle on Wednesday.

The Cook County Board of Commissioners voted, 15-2, to repeal a penny-per-ounce tax that went into effect on August 2.

At least eight other localities have some tax on sweetened drinks. Supporters of the tax claimed that it would've raised $200 million in the 2018 fiscal year budget, beginning December 1. "Since its inception, this tax was poorly devised, placed an enormous operational and financial burden on retailers, and saddled consumers with the responsibility to pick up the tab".

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a long-time critic of the health effects of sweetened beverages, had joined the Cook County fight as well, investing more than $5 million on political messaging to prop up the tax program.

The tax passed previous year when Board President Toni Preckwinkle cast the deciding vote after commissioners deadlocked on the measure. "The loss of business caused by this burdensome and regressive tax stunned local grocery stores and community members".

"Because of provisions in IL tax law - unique to this state and not relevant to adoption of taxes elsewhere - the Cook County tax was quite different than those in other cities".

The Can the Tax Coalition, backed by the American Beverage Association, said municipalities across the country should consider Cook County's experience if they are flirting with tax programs aimed at the beverage industry.

Not surprisingly, supporters of the tax decried the repeal as a blow to public health. So, she said, the tax "never really" affected the pizzeria's soda sales and its repeal would also likely have no effect. "It's not too late for Philadelphia's elected officials to follow suit and repeal our city's regressive, discriminatory and under-performing beverage tax".

Jim Krieger, executive director of Seattle-based Healthy Food America, noted that "r$3 epeal of this tax is a disappointment".

"Nothing good has come from Cook County's beverage tax". He added that the soda tax had only affected "a small number of people".

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