Preckwinkle's sweetened beverage tax repealed

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

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.

Just over two months since it was implemented, Cook County commissioners have soured on a penny-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks.

Store owners, drink companies and bottlers all battled the tax. Preckwinkle has said there could be an 11 percent budget cut resulting in layoffs with repeal of the tax. Commissioners voted Wednesday afternoon to repeal the widely unpopular tax, effective December 1.

Grace said Cook County's repeal "should serve as a harsh wake-up call" to elected officials in Philadelphia. "Beverage taxes are really a money grab that has nothing to do with public health". It applies not just to soda, but also to sports drinks, iced tea and lemonade, and comes on top of beverage taxes imposed by IL and Chicago.

Healthy Food America's executive director Dr. Jim Krieger said that Cook County's success in repealing the sweetened beverage tax was unique to state's tax legislation; and that it would not stop the momentum of other taxes that have taken effect across the USA, including Philadelphia and Seattle earlier this year.

Some retailers opposed to the tax posted signs in the soda aisle telling customers they will pay $1.44 more on each 12-pack of soda because of the tax, and urging them to tell their county commissioner to repeal it.

After Wednesday's vote, Preckwinkle indicated she wouldn't be taking the lead in adjusting the county's finances.

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