Suffredin- An Advocate for All of Us  

Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions
Unsung Heroine


  Office phone numbers:  

Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.


The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.

  Cook County is the second most populous county in the nation. It is the 19th largest government in the U.S.

STEINBERG: After Cook County scraps its soda tax, try a tax on deceit

Monday, October 09, 2017
Chicago Sun-Times
by Neil Steinberg

STEINBERG: After Cook County scraps its soda tax, try a tax on deceit

CHICAGO NEWS 10/09/2017, 07:27am
Sugary sodas in a store cooler

| AP file photo

Sign-Up for our News & Politics Newsletter Sign-Up

When ordinary politicians lie, and the lie blows up in their faces, do they shake their fists to the sky and exclaim, “But it looks so easy when Donald Trump does it!”?

I should call Toni Preckwinkle and ask.

The Cook County soda tax was never about battling obesity or diabetes. Rolled out Aug. 2, the penny-an-ounce tax was met with public outcry stoked by ferocious advertising by the soft drink industry.

The Cook County Board president kept insisting that, rather than a bald cash grab, the tax was instead a basic health measure, like flossing. Your kids are too fat, Preckwinkle told voters, and since you can’t keep the little brats from guzzling Mountain Dew, I’m going to help you by picking your pockets.

And to think people objected.


But all those TV commercials, some $5 million worth paid for by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg ignored one simple fact, and I wish I had thought to check this a month ago: These taxes don’t cut obesity.

Cook County isn’t the only fiefdom to attempt this stunt. About five years ago, over in Europe, nanny-state governments made a push to cut obesity. Turns out —who knew? — Europeans are also too fat, just like Americans. So Britain, France and other nations dabbled with jacking up taxes on fats and sugars, closely observed by an army of clipboard-wielding academics.

What did they find?

“The overall impact of a soft drink tax on calorie consumption is likely to be small,” concluded “The Effects of A Soft Drink Tax in the UK” published in the May 2015 issue of Health Economics.

Not only don’t the taxes cut obesity but — and this is so delicious, were it not so sad — when it comes to poor consumers in particular, increasing taxes on unhealthy foods like sweetened soda has one of those counterintuitive effects that make human nature such a delight to ponder.

A new study found that increasing tax on unhealthy food decreased the consumption of . . . wait for it . . . healthy food, as low-income consumers cut down on lettuce so they can continue to enjoy the junk they like best.

“A nontrivial number of respondents in the low-income group (39 percent of the total) behaved in a manner opposite to the intention of the policy,” noted “Distributional Impact of Fat Taxes and Thin Subsidies,” published last month in The Economic Journal, referring to a study in France. “They allocated a larger share of their budget towards unhealthy food and a smaller share towards healthy food”

Ah people, God love ’em.

Of course there are lots of studies and, not being a politician, I must be fair and mention some studies support such taxes; Denmark, for instance, seems to have blunted butter consumption with a high tax. But still, its most pronounced effect is not improving health but raising money.

And that’s an important effect. Cook County is broke, and somebody has to pony up money to run the place. Though why the burden should fall unduly on the shoulders of poor people who bring pleasure to their lives with Coca-Cola on a hot day is beyond me. Plus, I have to mention, from firsthand knowledge, that the tax was also a logistical and PR nightmare for supermarkets, who had to administer the tax.

Customers were alienated. I still can hardly slink guiltily into Sunset Foods without feeling like the assistant manager is giving me the stink eye for trying to get back the Cook County tax they unfairly charged me on a case of flavored, though not sweetened, bubbly water.

Now the soda tax is pretty much cooked, with 12 of the 17 commissioners on the County Board Finance Committee pledged to repeal the tax when the it meets Tuesday. The full board is scheduled to vote Wednesday.


I guess the finance committee will just have to find something else to tax. It’s a shame they can’t conjure up a way to tax lying; the receipts would be enormous, though I imagine our political leaders would complain of the cost to their pocketbooks. To which we say: Well boo-hoo, just suck it up. It’s for your own benefit.

Recent Headlines

Top prosecutor Kim Foxx apologizes as 18 convictions linked to corrupt cop vacated
Monday, September 24, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Preteens out of detention before trial under new ordinance
Friday, September 14, 2018
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

Cook County Board bars detention of youth under 13 years old
Thursday, September 13, 2018
Injustice Watch

Preteens accused of crimes won't be locked up at Cook County juvenile center
Thursday, September 13, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Slowik: Cook County offers residents last chance to comment on strategic plan
Thursday, September 13, 2018
Daily Southtown

Settlement over Cook County's 2007 decision to cut inmates' dental care will cost nearly $5.3 million
Wednesday, September 12, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Anti-patronage Shakman pact requiring federal oversight of Cook County hiring, firing to end
Friday, August 31, 2018
Chicago Tribune

1st District upholds merit board in firing of deputy
Thursday, August 30, 2018
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

Neighborhood program helps Cook County residents buy homes
Sunday, August 26, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Judge upholds Cook County firearm, ammunition taxes
Thursday, August 23, 2018
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

Editorial: E-filing should make Cook County courts more accessible. It doesn't
Wednesday, August 22, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Cook County tax incentive could pave way for Wingstop, Dunkin' Donuts on Elgin's Summit Street
Tuesday, August 21, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Editorial: What happened to the elk?
Friday, August 10, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Wells Fargo to offer $15,000 grants to potential Cook County homebuyers
Thursday, August 09, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Suit alleges Cook County detainees secretly monitored in bathrooms in holding cells at courthouses
Wednesday, August 08, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Half the elk at Busse Woods died last year, and officials aren’t sure why
Tuesday, August 07, 2018
Chicago Tribune

A letter from Dr. Jay Shannon regarding gun violence and Stroger Hospital
Tuesday, August 07, 2018
Special to

As Evanston adapts to minimum wage hike, nearby towns say they have no plan to join in
Tuesday, August 07, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Lawsuit could blast a $250 million hole in county budget
Monday, August 06, 2018
Crain's Chicago Business

Pappas: Automatic refunds of $19.5 million going to 53,000 homeowners because of property tax cuts
Monday, August 06, 2018
Special to

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.