Area tax on sugary drinks on way out after vote

Pablo Tucker
October 11, 2017

Lawrence Suffredin, representing the 13th district, was the lone county commissioner to vote against the repeal. Cook County has a population of over 5 million people, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Morrison and Frank Shuftan, spokesman for Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, both said statements would be issued after today's vote.

As Cook County commissioners are set to vote to repeal a tax on sweetened beverages on Tuesday, a new poll finds that the millions of dollars in ads spent by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg may not have done much to sway public opinion.

The tax has been plagued, in its very short life, by legal challenges, implementation glitches, and a screeching, multi-million-dollar media battle between the soda industry and public health groups. The repeal measure still would face a final vote before the board on Wednesday.

When the tax finally did go into effect on August 2, following a lawsuit by the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, it was met with staunch public opposition: Consumers have organized highly visible boycotts, driven to nearby IN for groceries, and flooded their representatives with complaints. Preckwinkle has said there could be an 11 percent budget cut resulting in layoffs with repeal of the tax.

"As I noted last month, the difficult fight for this revenue has focused me on what matters most: doing the hard work necessary to build a healthier, safer and more efficient Cook County".

A vote to repeal the soda tax is expected to happen later this afternoon. The repeal was favored by over 80% of all Cook County residents. It read in part: "Today the board exercised its collective will and set in motion a repeal of the sweetened beverage tax we approved past year".

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