Suffredin- Changing County Government  
 

Accountability
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.
   
     
     
     



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.

OPINION

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.

Email: sueontiveros.cst@gmail.com

Send letters to: letters@suntimes.com.



Recent Headlines

Preckwinkle, Evans end budget battle
Wednesday, July 18, 2018
Crain's Chicago Business

Troubled detainee at center of unusual court fight between Loyola hospital, Cook County
Monday, July 16, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Cook County Commissioners Confounded by Hiring of Health System Consultant
Monday, July 16, 2018
WBEZ Chicago Public Radio

Doctor fired by Cook County medical examiner now under the microscope in Indiana
Sunday, July 15, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

County officials defend Forest Preserves police in wake of man harassing woman over Puerto Rican flag shirt
Friday, July 13, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Familiar questions about ‘bystander effect’ arise after man berates woman for Puerto Rico shirt
Friday, July 13, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Berrios' analysts used Zillow, other shortcuts in assessing property values, documents show
Friday, July 13, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Northbrook to revisit Cook County paid sick leave policy after opting out last year
Friday, July 13, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Cook County Forest Preserves officials discuss officer's resignation
Friday, July 13, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Amid video fallout, Cook County Forest Preserve District reveals fatal crash involving worker and governmental truck
Friday, July 13, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Transformation in the outdoors
Friday, July 13, 2018
Special to suffredin.org

Forest preserve cop resigns after apparently failing to help woman being harassed over Puerto Rico shirt
Thursday, July 12, 2018
Chicago Tribune

5 things: A civics lesson on Puerto Rico after man rants about woman's flag T-shirt, questions citizenship
Thursday, July 12, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Cook County Commissioners: Get Rid of Forest Preserve Police
Thursday, July 12, 2018
WTTW Chicago Tonight

Schneider wants hearing over fatal crash blamed on Cook forest preserve driver
Thursday, July 12, 2018
Daily Herald

Man who harassed woman for Puerto Rican flag shirt charged with hate crime
Thursday, July 12, 2018
WLS ABC 7 Chicago

EDITORIAL: A judge drops a gun on a courthouse floor. So much for respect for the law
Thursday, July 12, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Forest preserve officer who didn't help woman in Puerto Rican flag shirt 'tarnished the whole department,' commissioner says
Thursday, July 12, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Preckwinkle apologizes to woman berated by man at forest preserve for wearing Puerto Rican flag shirt
Tuesday, July 10, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Video appears to show forest preserves officer failing to help woman being harassed for wearing shirt with Puerto Rican flag design
Tuesday, July 10, 2018
Chicago Tribune

all news items

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