Suffredin- Changing County Government  

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 was created on January 15, 1831 and named after Daniel P. Cook, Member of Congress and the first Attorney from the State of Illinois.

ONTIVEROS: I think I miss that soda pop tax

Monday, November 20, 2017
Chicago Sun-Times
by Sue Ontiveros


The ticket made me think maybe we were too hasty in axing that Cook County pop tax.

When the penny-an-ounce sweetened beverage tax was implemented, I didn’t like it. Why my drink? It wasn’t sugar-sweetened, but rather calorie-free and artificially sweetened. So I joined the crowd and figured out a way to sidestep the tax.

I made a run for the Indiana border and stocked up on my favorite soda. Oh, I thought I was so clever, getting three eight-packs in Northwest Indiana. My enthusiasm for sticking it to The Man dimmed when an automated speeding ticket arrived at my home. Instead of paying a $2.88 sweetened beverage tax, I paid a $100 ticket.

Not so clever after all.


You know what would have happened if that tax had continued? I would have grown tired of trekking to Indiana. Others would have too. I would have remembered that ticket and stayed home.

I would have bought pop in Chicago or cut back. Most likely, I would have done the latter — cut back — because that penny an ounce was awfully harsh. Over time, that’s exactly what a lot of others would have done as well.

That would have been a good thing.

The message about the health benefits of cutting back on sugar got tangled with the fact Cook County has budget woes. The real aim of the tax, skeptics said, was to shore up the county’s finances. Also, people couldn’t understand why artificially sweetened drinks were being taxed but not sugary coffees. The health argument felt disingenuous.

But going after sugar consumption has real merits. For too long we thought fat was the enemy, but new studies have shown that it’s sugar and other carbohydrates doing a number on our waistlines and health. You’ve probably heard the figure that two-thirds of Americans are overweight. In Cook County, it’s some 25 percent of adults, according to recent figures from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. So it’s not like we’re a place that couldn’t benefit from lifestyle changes to improve health.

To combat the problem, we have to do something, and probably something drastic. Which is where putting a heavy tax on sweetened drinks comes in. Policy intervention could reduce the attractiveness of sweetened drinks, just as it did for cigarettes.

The higher the taxes on cigarettes, the more people quit. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows only 15 percent of the U.S. population smokes today. Just 50 years ago, more than 40 percent of U.S. adults were smokers. Public campaigns on the ill effects of smoking motivated some to quit, but ever-increasing taxes played a pivotal role.

The beverage industry feels it was singled out, but I think it was just among the first to be targeted, and for good reason. The numbers show that soda consumption on the wane; a Fortune magazine article illustrated how it’s at a 30-year low. People are starting to get the message about sugar and cutting back by drinking less soda, which, admit it, has zero nutritional value. Taxes on sweetened beverages could be the impetus to more people switching beverage choices.

Here’s what I think would have happened if the soda tax had continued. All of us, eventually, would be drinking fewer sweetened drinks. (Actually, it wouldn’t hurt me to drink fewer artificially sweetened drinks; observational studies link them to weight gain.) We would have substituted water, unsweetened teas and other unsweetened treats. We would have adjusted.

Eventually, we might have tackled other problem areas: those sugar-laden coffees, snack foods and the like. Lots of future initiatives might have followed the county’s first move.

But now the tax is gone, and with it a good opportunity to improve our health.


Send letters to:

Recent Headlines

Special prosecutor billed Cook County nearly 50K for Van Dyke murder case
Thursday, October 18, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County Board votes in favor of $4 million settlement in Stroger medical malpractice case
Wednesday, October 17, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Judge bucks Cook County law, says boys as young as 10 can be locked up
Wednesday, October 17, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Village of Northbrook Opts Back In to the Cook County Earned Sick Leave Ordinance
Monday, October 15, 2018
National Law Review

Chicago health system to add 240+ jobs
Monday, October 15, 2018
Becker's Hospital Review

Fired doctor sues county, loses whistleblower claim
Friday, October 12, 2018
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

Cook County health system to add jobs
Thursday, October 11, 2018
Crain's Chicago Business

No layoffs or tax hike in mayoral hopeful Preckwinkle’s proposed county budget
Thursday, October 11, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

'Inclusionary' housing ordinance rewrite advances
Thursday, October 11, 2018
Evanston Now

Faced with tight budgets, more Illinois counties merge clerk, recorder offices
Monday, October 08, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Class action: Hundreds of Cook Sheriff officer suspensions invalid, because State's Attorney not involved
Friday, October 05, 2018
Cook County Record

One Cook County judge bucks chief judge’s order against unaffordably high bail
Monday, October 01, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Game of thrones? Watchdog sees ‘scheme to defraud’ in Pritzker toilet tax break
Monday, October 01, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

County Board approves $31M election equipment contract despite lawsuit; $11M to settle 2 malpractice lawsuits
Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Chicago Tribune

County approves new election equipment contract, despite rival firm’s lawsuit
Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

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

all news items

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