March 18, 2018

Cook County soda tax repealed

11 October 2017, 01:15 | Lucia Cruz

Controversial tax on soda in Cook County Ill. could end up on the chopping block

Controversial tax on soda in Cook County Ill. could end up on the chopping block

The tax, which was projected to raise $200 million every year, has raised $16 million in the first two months since it went into effect - about half of what was projected, said Frank Shuftan, a spokesman for Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

In an October 5 budget address, Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle, the most stalwart defender of the soda tax, argued that county services - including hospitals, clinics, and community intervention programs - would suffer without the tax.

The debate over the pop tax has blanketed Chicago area airwaves, with former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg bankrolling $5 million worth of ads touting the health benefits of reducing the amount of sugar consumed by county residents. The repeal measure still would face a final vote before the board on Wednesday.

The commissioners on Tuesday voted 15-1 for repeal of the tax.

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The finance committee's vote followed hours of testimony from Cook County officials, retailers, healthcare advocates and residents. The tax went into effect on August 2, and has faced public backlash fueled by a repeal campaign funded by the American Beverage Association. One day later, commissioner Sean Morrison announced that he and 11 colleagues had reached a deal to repeal the Ordinance, giving them a veto-proof majority that ultimately proved unnecessary on Tuesday.

Unlike other cities and counties that have passed soda taxes in recent years, Cook County was arguably cursed from the start.

Preckwinkle released a statement thanking supporters of the Ordinance, including the American Heart Association and the Illinois Public Health Institute, while sounding a conciliatory note. The tax was greeted with 87% disapproval from the public.

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