Cook County Commissioners Sour on Sugary Drinks Tax

Cook County Commissioners Sour on Sugary Drinks Tax

The Chicago-area's penny-per-ounce tax on soda and sweetened drinks was repealed Wednesday after a monthslong conflict that included a court battle and millions of dollars' worth of television ads on both sides.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, an advocate for the tax, said in a statement that she is "disappointed" by the vote and that it is now up to "commissioners to choose our direction on revenue".

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Despite warnings from Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle of steep budget cuts across the county if her pop tax was repealed, the Cook County Board Committee rejected her sweetened beverage tax 15-1 on Tuesday, Oct. 10, after a almost four-hour session. "IL law required that the tax be levied on consumers, while all other cities tax beverage distributors, which is a simpler process", Krieger said in a statement. The ordinance is set for a vote on Tuesday, Oct. 10.

Proponents of the tax claimed it would improve public health by discouraging the purchase of sugary drinks, which have been connected to health issues like obesity and Type 2 diabetes. The Illinois Retail Merchants Association, which unsuccessfully sued to try to stop the tax, called the repeal "great news for consumers and retailers".

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Preckwinkle warned commissioners Thursday that they would be forced to make steep cuts across the county to make up for the lost revenue officials counted on from the tax to balance next year's $5.4 billion budget.

"But it is also a stark reminder that public health benefits alone are not enough to enact and sustain a new sweetened beverage tax", the coalition said in a statement. They have until November 30 to approve a budget.

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