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County repeals beverage tax

Quinn Cunningham

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In early October Cook County commissioners reached an agreement to repeal the sugar beverage tax. The tax which has been active since early August charges an extra $.01 for every ounce of a sugary beverage. Not only did the tax apply to soda but also to sports drinks, energy drinks, sweetened coffee, and any other non 100% pure juice drink. The tax was very poorly implemented as many sugary beverages were not addressed within it.

As it was estimated to bring in $75 million, the tax was originally promoted as a way to balance the budget. However, it was then rebranded as a tax to encourage a healthier diet specifically among children. “It’s about whether or not we want Cook County to be healthier, safer, and more efficient,” Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle said.

This is perhaps the most pathetic defense of the tax: Preckwinkle is stating that Cook County residents are unable to make wise health judgements without government assistance. The same argument has been made throughout time to promote various taxes that restrict consumer choice. In some cases, like smoking, these arguments are valuable as a legitimate negative externality is imposed on the rest of society: second-hand smoke.

However, in the case of soda the negative externality does not seem to be as prevalent. In addition, businesses in Cook County also saw a decrease in revenue because residents were driving to other counties to avoid the tax. The tax failed on multiple levels. For those reasons the people of Cook County protested and petition to repeal the tax. The message was heard by the commissioners as they voted 15-2 to repeal the tax.

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Quinn Cunningham, News Editor

Senior Quinn Cunningham is a news editor and has served on staff since 2017.

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County repeals beverage tax